There is something so natural feeling and simple about eating true raw cocoa from a bean. Attendees of the Dallas Chocolate Conference and Festival had that chance Saturday when dozens of chocolatiers gathered at the Addison Conference Center.

From raw beans to gourmet truffles, the part conference and part festival had a huge selection of chocolate for the community to try. Tables hosted by local chocolate shops displayed an array of sweet treats.

“I’m looking for caramel, I love anything with caramel,” said Elise Gutierrez as she walked into the festival. Gutierrez attended with her family of five. “We all love chocolate so we were just like, let’s go try it all.”

As many shops sampled their chocolates, classes also were held throughout the day to offer information on all aspects of topics from science to business presentation. Small business owners were found networking, discussing technique and sharing discoveries.

Kevin Wenzel, owner of Wiseman House Chocolate, thinks small business owners really play a large part in their communities. Wenzel says his business has restored five buildings in his home city of Hico, Texas and at one point was the largest employer in the town.

“Unless a business is making a positive influence to the community, it’s taking away,” he said.   

Stacy Diamond has been making chocolate for 30 years. She went into business with it after she lost her husband to cancer in 2006.

“It became a passion to make it for him and I now feel like a part of him is still watching over the chocolates,” Diamond said. “It’s pretty spiritual for me, but just the fact that I’m doing what I love to do kept me alive after I lost him.”

Chocolate means creativity for Arlington native Katherine Clapner, owner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate.

“It needs to be more fun,” said Clapner. “Don’t go in with any preconceptions about chocolate. It can be anything and everything.”

Su Chef for Chocolate Secrets, Christina Kent says she loves her job.

“It’s chocolate, I mean you can’t have a bad day with chocolate," she said. "You make people smile all day long."

For a heads up on more DFW events follow Camille Suttles on Twitter @camillersuttles or shoot her an email at            

I am a Broadcast/Journalism double major and Theater minor. I love art and culture. I want to spread happiness and understanding.

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