Chocolate lovers dive into a tasty paradise

For some it was about raising money, for others, bragging rights. For everyone, though, it was all about chocolate — and the more the better. But for one Chadds Ford teenager, it was a case of third time being the charm.

Elana Lindner, a 10th-grader at Unionville High School, took first place in the student division for her orange chocolate truffles in the third annual Kennett Chocolate Lovers Festival benefitting the United Way of Southern Chester County.

Lindner came in second place in the previous two years. She said she felt good about coming in first, especially since it was her first attempt with truffles. She thinks adding one simple ingredient did the trick.

“The salt helped. It was a nice complement,” she said.

Her mother, Sherri Lindner, was obviously proud.

Shelby Huntedr, left, and Elana Lindner, both of Chadds Ford take home honors for their entries in the festival.

Shelby Huntedr, left, and Elana Lindner, both of Chadds Ford take home honors for their entries in the festival.

“She’s been practicing for a week. She takes it seriously,” Sherri Lindner said.

Another UHS 10th-grader from Chadds Ford, Shelby Hunter, also did well. She finished second in the student division in the cupcake category with her dark chocolate raspberry cupcakes.

“This is exciting,” Hunter said. “I was nervous, but I want to try for first place next year.”

It was Hunter’s first time entering the festival.

Lindner’s and Hunter’s entries were just two of the 240 entries in the third year for the event.

“Only in this community could we get 240 people to donate their entries,” said Carrie Freeman, CEO of the Southern Chester County branch of the United Way.

In addition to a record-setting 240 entries, 1,300 people packed the Kennett High School gymnasium to sample the tasty offerings from students, amateurs and professionals.

New for this year was a “Connoisseur Hour” from 1-2 p.m. during which time people who paid $25 could get a first crack at the goodies. General admission after 2 p.m. was $10.

According to Freeman, the event netted $13,000 last year. This year’s total was $14,000.

While entrants can claim bragging rights and the United Way gets some money for its programs, the visitors came to sample the chocolate treats that ranged from truffles and cupcakes, to brownies and anything else that came to the imagination of the bakers.

Even the names were intriguing: “Chocolate Blackout Cake,” “Love Child Chocolate Raspberry Torte,” “Black and White Sea Salt Caramels,” “Feelin’ Groovy Fudge,” and “This Peanut Butter And Potato Chip Walk Into A Bar.”

Todd McGarvey, of Springfield, Delaware County, shows you don't have to be a kid to love chocolate.

Todd McGarvey, of Springfield, Delaware County, shows you don't have to be a kid to love chocolate. But you might have to eat around one.

Todd McGarvey, of Springfield, Delaware County, was there because he loves chocolate and the event has “so many different things to choose from.”

Paul Carlson, from Sadsbury, said he was at last year’s event and decided to return because, “We had a great time last year. There’s a lot of great food and it’s an excellent time.”

When asked what he liked the most, his answer was short and sweet: “There’s some really good fudge,” he said with a smile.

Bob and Joann Arakelian, from East Pikeland were attending for the first time and had to make a reconnaissance tour through the gym before settling on what to try first.

Joann Arakelian said it was difficult making a choice while her husband, who said he used to work for a chocolatier, said his first reaction was “Wow, there was a lot of chocolate here. We walked around first just to see what everybody had, then decided to dive in.”

Dan Gannon, of Union Street Financial in Kennett Square, was one of the sponsors.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s a great family event and the money raised here goes back to the community through the United Way.”

Among the professional entries, The Gables took first place in the cake division, while The Country Butcher won for its cookies. Talula’s Table took first for candy and Rosa’s Cupcakery was best in the cupcake division for professionals. Delaware Tech Culinary Arts won for its brownies.

One of the professional entrants was Sean Cavanaugh, of Renaissance Artisan Chocolate, an online only business in Wilmington. This was his third time for the event.

“It’s a great opportunity to help the United Way who helps the community. I’ve always gotten great feedback and I’ve always met a lot of nice folks,” Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh took second place for professionals in the candy category.

Ashley Vanderslice enjoys her time at the festival.

Ashley Vanderslice enjoys her time at the festival.

There will be another chocolate-themed fund-raiser on April 25 at the Leonard home on Bragg Hill in Kennett Square, Freeman said. That event will feature artisan chocolates made by local chocolatiers paired with fine wines from area vineyards and craft beers; live music; and more.

Tickets for that are $75 per person or $135 per couple and may be purchased online at http://unitedwayscc.org/OurStore.aspx.

The United Way of Southern Chester County serves the residents of four school districts: Avon Grove, Kennett, Oxford, and Unionville-Chadds Ford.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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