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Bean-to-bar makers to be celebrated at Chocstock chocolate festival


Auckland's Ao Cacao is just one of the chocolate makers taking part in this year's Chocstock. Image / @ao.cacao
Auckland's Ao Cacao is just one of the chocolate makers taking part in this year's Chocstock. Image / @ao.cacao
Chocoholics listen up. Chocstock, a 'chocolate festival for grown ups' is returning to Wellington this June.

The only Aotearoa festival dedicated solely to chocolate, let alone craft chocolate, will bring together more than 25 New Zealand, Australian and Pacific makers to celebrate bean-to-bar chocolate alongside legendary chef and 2024 Chocstock Ambassador Peter Gordon.

The weekend-long event will showcase the talents of the country’s burgeoning chocolate-making scene. While many brands buy bulk chocolate and add their own flavours and other additions, the festival celebrates local craft artisans that undertake almost every step of the process, hence the ‘bean to bar’ descriptor.

Chocstock founders Matt Williams and Luke Owen Smith say since the event’s debut in 2021, the number of local craft chocolate makers has tripled, meaning they’ve had to triple the festival’s size for its return.

“Three years ago, there were around ten local makers in New Zealand, and now there are almost 30,” says Owen-Smith. “People can’t get enough of craft chocolate; it’s incredible to watch. We’re excited to bring these creative, innovative and adventurous makers to the capital so foodies and the taste-adventurous can explore the magic of bean-to-bar chocolate.

“While the craft chocolate movement is growing all the time, many chocolate lovers are yet to be introduced to this exciting new world – we’re hoping Chocstock will help spark fresh curiosity about craft chocolate and what’s possible from specialty cocoa beans,” says Luke.

Along with taste-testing of each brand’s wares the event will include beer and chocolate pairings, coffee and chocolate pairings and an ‘Ultimate Brownie Bake Off’ that will see eight Wellington bakers battle it out for best single-origin Pacific brownie.

Self-professed chocolate lover Peter Gordon  says there’s so much for people to uncover when it comes to craft chocolate.

“New Zealand’s craft chocolate scene has incredible origin stories. These makers are bringing something new to the table – allowing people to understand where their chocolate comes from. As someone who can remember Woodstock and how that changed perceptions, getting to be part of Chocstock and helping tell this story drew me in straight away,” he says.

Matt Williams says many local craft chocolate makers are now sourcing their beans from Pacific growers, helping support a thriving ecosystem across the region.

“There’s something special about beans grown in the Pacific, and New Zealand is fortunate to have some strong connections with growers across the region, he says.

“We’re excited to have the team from Gaston Chocolat at Chocstock. They work with Vanuatu farmers helping sell their cocoa, ensuring they are paid well above market rates and can implement sustainable farming practices that will set up their farms for generations.”

  • Chockstock is at Wellington’s Harbourside Centre from 21 June until 23 June 2024. 


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