Articles: Elaine’s work has appeared in the following magazines, newspapers and webzines:

  • New York Times Travel Section
  • “O” Oprah Magazine
  • Sunset Magazine
  • Bon Appetit
  • Prevention Magazine
  • Essence
  • Alta Magazine
  • Black Enterprise
  • Ebony
  • Cuisine Noir
  • Jet
  • Adventure Travel Trade Association
  • Odyssey Couleur
  •  Amsterdam News
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Science of Mind
  • Upscale Magazine
  • Global Black Woman
  • Bark Magazine
  • Yoga Journal
  • Dichan Thai Magazine
  • The East Bay Monthly
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • Indianapolis Star Newspaper
  • BayWoof
  • Heart and Soul

Meet Africa’s New Chocolatocracy

By Elaine Lee

Published in BonAppetit

When we think of chocolate, brands like Hershey, Cadbury, Godiva, and Nestle’s often come to mind. But at the annual Salon du Chocolate—the world’s largest event devoted exclusively to chocolate and cocoa—they have at least 230 brands to sample and savor. Every fall, Paris’ colossal Porte de Versailles event center morphs into a chocolate wonderland.

At this five-day festival, the 100,000 plus attendees descend like bees to flowers into this mass celebration of chocolate to purchase exotic treasures from chocolatiers hailing from over 60 countries, attend culinary and artistic competitions, chocolate making workshops, musical performances, and there is even a fashion show, where models sashay about the stage wearing edible designer chocolate outfits.

I attended my first Salon during my annual trip to Paris in 2007. What began as the adventure of a chocolate lover has become a pilgrimage. All my trips to Paris now coincide with the Salon.

Last year, as I wandered through the villages of vibrant stalls, many assembled by region or theme, something new caught my eye. A large pavilion sign that read “She Trades”. Its booths were colorfully festooned with African patterns, symbols and images that showcased five African women-owned companies. Bearing witness to these mavericks of Africa’s chocolate industry was a wonder to behold. After attending so many salons, I realized that I had never met an African woman chocolate manufacturer. It was an honor, privilege and delight to peruse the pavilion, nibble the samples and hear their stories.

I was particularly captivated by the beautifully engraved Adinkra symbols rising from the small chocolate squares displayed at the “57 Chocolate” booth. Their shapes, colors and flavors were so vivid and rich.

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