Cafes going all in for Hot Chocolate YYC

Throughout the month of February, Calgarians can discover different varieties of hot chocolate and help support Calgary’s Meals on Wheels.

The YYC Hot Chocolate Fest kicked off last Jan. 30 at the Calgary Farmers Market.

Christine Conley, a client sales and marketing co-ordinator for Meals on Wheels said, “It’s a month long, friendly competition between cafés and restaurants in Calgary to get creative with their hot chocolate creations while supporting a good cause.”

Participants are encouraged to try different hot chocolate vendors around the city to vote for ‘Calgary’s best hot chocolate.’

The locations participating include The Bean Stop, Atco Blue Flame Kitchen, Boxwood Cafe, Cibo, Cococo Chocolatiers, The Main Dish, Trib Steakhouse, Espresso Pi Cafe, Euphoria Café, TotaliTea, Fiasco Gelato, Vie Café, The Roasterie, Cornerstone, Swine and Sow Wine and Ale House, The Loop Eating & Drinking and Murrietta’s Bar and Grill.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of every hot chocolate goes to support Calgary’s Meals on Wheels.

“Eighty-three per cent of Calgary’s Meals on Wheels recipients are subsidized, so funds raised throughout the year help subsidize the cost of meals for these people,” said Conley in an interview.

“Also, funds raised from this event go to provide extra meals.”

All 17 vendors that are serving creative hot chocolate concoctions are listed on the festival’s website.

“You’re able to pick and choose like, ‘Oh, I’m in the area and want something here,’ or ‘Wow, that drink sounds awesome, and I want to try that,’” Conley said.

The varieties Calgarians can pick from are endless, ranging from orange zest, tiramisu, lavender, and coconut to spiced combinations like rosemary and chili peppers.

Certain venues have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic hot chocolate drinks, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.

By voting and reviewing a hot chocolate, participants can be entered for a chance to win “swag” and gift certificates to some of the participating vendors.

“There are random prize giveaways for reviews done online on the YYC Hot Chocolate site and for people that tag us in their mug shots on social media,” said Conley.

The three titles that will be given out at the end of the competition are best hot chocolate, best spirited, and most funds raised.

Also, the vendor who wins the coveted title of ‘best hot chocolate’ will get a trophy.

“It’s a hot chocolate trophy mug and bragging rights for the year,” Conley said.

The Main Dish, a small café on 1st Street N.E. in Bridgeland, is one of the vendors competing this year.

Carissa Lazette, an employee of the Main Dish, said Brooke Yule created the cafe’s hot chocolates.

“She is one of our shift leaders, she is like our coffee queen since she likes making up our seasonal drinks.”

“It’s a hot chocolate trophy mug and bragging rights for the year.” – Christine Conley

Lazette has tried both of Yule’s created drinks and said both are “awesome.”

The Main Dish is offering two varieties, one regular kind called the spicy rosemary hot chocolate and the other is a spirited variety, which is strawberry tequila cream hot chocolate.

Jill Lagrandeur, manager at The Bean Stop in Eau Claire Market, is thrilled to be a part of the competition.

“This is my first year participating, and I’m really excited to be raising money for such a great organization.”

The Bean Stop’s Black Pearl hot chocolate has reduced spiced rum and is made with 72 per cent dark chocolate and finished with brown sugar, whipped cream, and topped with edible pearls. There are no artificial ingredients in this drink.

Sylvia Johnston from Cornerstone Music Café introduced her new hot chocolate, called ‘Madras Cocoa,’ at the kick-off.

The new beverage took Johnston “two months to perfect.”

More information can be found the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest’s website.

With files from Danielle Richard and Stephanie Lem of The Press.

About Karen Brandon 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Karen Brandon is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2014-2015 academic year.