Monte Casino, the venue for the Coffee & Chocolate Expo 2016 in Johannesburg.
It was a warm, sunny Winter's day and the outdoor setting brought together all the senses to accentuate the experience:
The layout and design was appealing to the eye. The samplers and tasters on the tables of the stall holders were easy to reach. The different flavours of food, chocolate, coffee and beverages tantalised our tastebuds. The heavenly smell of all the freshly brewed coffees and chocolate treats played with our emotions, we had to have them! The proudly South African musicians played in the background and brought it all together.
Amidst all the entertainment, we managed to catch up with some of the stall holders and Gauteng's No.1 Barista.
Khulekani Nkulu Mpala was crowned Gauteng's No.1 Barista in May this year. He was at the expo showing off his skills, and teaching some of the audience how to be a number one home barista at the De'Longhi stand. Khulekani told us how tough the competition was, that made him the number one barista in Gauteng. The panel of judges rated the contestants not only on the taste and smell of the coffee, but also on the story behind the ingredients used. Khulekani is currently at TriBeCa Coffee where he trains the next generation of "top baristas".
Lara at Monatê Chocolate told us about her chocolate factory in Illovo, Johannesburg. She has been making chocolate since 2010 with her brother under the name Fine and Raw, and in 2015 decided to go on her own and started a proudly South African brand, where she uses African designs and materials for her packaging. All the chocolates are made from raw, organic ingredients and are dairy free, gluten free, vegan and guilt free. Monatê (pronounced Maw-nah-tee) is the Sotho word for delicious and their mission is to Save the World with Chocolate!
Faizel from the JHB Culinary & Pastry School told us about his team of 7 young patisserie chefs who worked on this amazing display of patisseries. The school which is based in Maboneng Precinct assists the chefs to start their career in the industry. They offer short courses, "edutainment" classes and full-time City & Guilds accredited diplomas and certificates. The JHB Culinary & Pastry School have an open day on 30 July 2016 and are currently offering a basic pastry short course. Children between 9 and 15 years old can enjoy the Junior Chef's Academy which will commence in September 2016.
Oh My Cake! owner Naseeha, told us that she and Camilla of Camilla's Macaroons who shared a stall at the Expo, will soon be opening a store together around September in Fourways, Johannesburg. Their table was filled with an array of gorgeous cakes, cupcakes, macarons and bespoke cakes like the donut cupcakes. Outside of the expo you can find Camilla at 27 Boxes in Melville and Naseeha is active on all the social media, you can visit her website as well on www.ohmycake.co.za .
Exhibitors came from far and wide, like Sugarlicious who are based in Durban but made a special trip for the show. The husband and wife team, Mohamed and Zakeeya have been attending markets since 2012 and have created a great brand for themselves in Durban. They have recently started supplying stores in Johannesburg with their products as well as attending Johannesburg food exhibitions like the Coffee & Chocolate Expo. It was our first time indulging in one of their ice-cream macarons and it was simply divine. The peanut butter ice-cream was a unique twist and the macarons just melted in your mouth - after finishing one, I felt like at least 5 more was needed!
Family run businesses are always nice to see and Paranos Gourmet Foods made us feel like we were part of the family. They were so busy (they didn't have lunch) but still found the time to have a chat with us. The business is run by 4 sisters: Atiyya, Faheemah, Nazmeera, Sabeeha and their mother helps as well. They do a variety of catering from corporate functions to bridal showers and birthday parties. Paranos Gourmet Foods also offer a easy Churro pre-mix, (that we managed to try a few weeks ago), which is available at the show. We had the pleasure of trying the finished product in a ball form served in a cone (Churro cone), this afternoon which we really enjoyed. In addition to the sweet treats, they are serving delicious shawarmas at the Coffee & Chocolate Expo. All their food is strictly Halaal and you can catch them at the Good Food & Wine Show in Johannesburg from the 29th July 2016.
Food, coffee, chocolate, music, you would think that's all the Coffee & Chocolate Expo has to offer but they pulled out a wild card with Mercedes Benz. The car dealership had a few of their top end cars on display to add to the amazing experience of the show.
There are a lot more stalls to mention and great workshops to attend, such as the one hosted by Kees Beyers of Beyers Chocolates.
Whether you're looking to take the whole family out or just your partner, the Coffee & Chocolate Expo is definitely a must.
Cape Town it's your turn next from 24th September 2016!
View our album of the event on our Facebook Page