TAMPA – Sweets aficionados Aileen Mand and Edgar Schaked claim chocolate is in a class all of its own. It's a distinctive treat, they say, that deserves to be celebrated.
Plenty of other people evidently are of the same mindset as Mand, a former Walt Disney World producer, and Schaked, a third-generation chocolatier, because for the fourth consecutive year their brainchild – the Festival of Chocolate – is returning to the Museum of Science & Industry.
Florida's largest chocolate-themed three-day affair – an event that's been featured in “Southern Living” magazine and on ABC's “The Chew” – is slated to begin on Saturday and run through Monday at MOSI, 4801 E. Fowler Ave.
Whether you're 2 or 102, you'll find a myriad of chocolate confections to tickle your taste buds from among more than 30 vendors who will be offering samples and sales of everything chocolaty from truffles, cakes and cupcakes, to cookies, brownies and even ice cream.
You'll also be sure to stumble upon some unique chocolate creations – like martinis, meat rubs, bacon, barbecue sauces and balsamic vinegars.
A Cocoa Couture Fashion Show, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, will feature garments made from candy wrappers, created mainly by students at Tampa's International Academy of Design and Technology.
On Sunday there will be a live cake decorating contest from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Throughout the festival guests also can observe award-winning chef demonstrations, learn about the history and science of chocolate at the Chocolate Check Up, and participate in a host of chocolate-related interactive activities.
New this year is Monday's Great American Candy Run, which Mand describes as a “showpiece obstacle course created to bring out the kid in all of us.”
“There is no better sugar rush than to come face to face with a giant cookie pit, hurdle through a peppermint patch or dive through giant Dizzy Donuts,” said Mand, named Florida's 2013 Producer of the Year for the Festival of Chocolate by BizBash magazine.
Children younger than 5 must be accompanied by an adult and because of its limited space, advance registration is encouraged by clicking here.
“MOSI is focused on education and fun so this festival fits that bill,” Mand said.
Wit Ostrenko, MOSI's president and CEO, agrees.
“The Festival of Chocolate is one of my favorite times of the year here at MOSI,” he said. “The entire museum smells amazing, and I see people's faces lighting up as they learn the science behind chocolate.”
Entrance into the event is included with the purchase of MOSI's admission price: $21.95 for adults and $17.95 for children. Adult MOSI members pay $10 and children 12 and younger are admitted free.
Members can purchase tickets to the chocolate event in advance by calling (813) 987-6000 or by clicking here.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at email@example.com.