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After the Dallas Chocolate Conference, a Word With Two of Its Chocolate Magicians

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Three words: Dallas. Chocolate. Conference. Just the thought of all that chocolate got me ready to get busy eating. Then I got busy lying down. And I was sweaty. But it's not what you think.

We've all heard of the meat sweats, but Saturday afternoon, at the Dallas Chocolate Conference at Addison Conference Centre, I experienced my first encounter with what I can only imagine were the chocolate sweats. I haven't seen a doctor, but I believe it resulted from too much of a very, very, very good thing.

To find out what went into all that chocolate, I sat down with, well, with my computer, to type some questions that would be read and subsequently answered by two conference participants: chocolate maker Art Pollard of Amano Artisan Chocolate and chocolatier Andrea Pedraza or cocoandré as they sat at their own computers in Utah and Oak Cliff, respectively.

First, a quick lesson in chocolate maker versus chocolatier: the two are different, in that chocolate makers create chocolate from the harvested raw materials, and chocolatiers craft that pure chocolate into delicious little things like truffles, bark, bars and bonbons. See? I actually learned something at the conference.

Anyway, here's what Art and Andrea had to say:

FB: Tell me a bit about your product and why it's so special. Art Pollard: At Amano Artisan Chocolate, we import the world's rarest and most flavorful cocoa beans which we use to make our chocolate from scratch. We work directly with the farmers and pay them handsomely for their very best cocoa. It is amazing when you taste high-quality chocolate made from cocoa grown by farmers who are the top of their craft; it is a completely different experience than what most people are used to. Andrea Pedraza: Ingredients. It starts with top quality chocolate and natural flavors and is handmade daily. This ensures freshness.

FB: What made you want to showcase your chocolate wares at the Dallas Chocolate Conference? Art: There is a great food community here in Dallas. I had the wonderful opportunity to come and exhibit here last year and I was amazed at how much people in and around Dallas love their food -- especially chocolate. Andrea: It is an honor to be able to share what I do with the people who care about chocolate.

FB: What are you most looking forward to during your trip to Dallas? Art: Texas Barbeque!

FB: What do you bring to the table that nobody else does? Art: There are many who say that they use the very best ingredients, but it is rare that it is actually true. Andrea: I named my business CocoAndre Chocolatier, the art of chocolate, because I believe that chocolate is like a canvas and what artisanal chocolatiers do with it is our art.

FB: What do you eat when you're not eating chocolate? Art: I am, of course, a huge fan of anything spelled D-E-S-S-E-R-T. Andrea: Pasta, green salad ... and chocolate cake.

FB: What, do you think, is so unique about working/living in Oak Cliff? Andrea: I love that I know most of my customers by name and when I'm out and about people actually wave or stop and say hello. It's like living in a small town; a melting pot of people who get along and really know one another.

FB: And Utah? What's up with that place?! Art: The dry climate and high altitude of the mountains of Utah help us make our chocolate even better. Only 10-15 years ago, Utah used to be the bastion of all-you-can-eat restaurants. Today, we have an incredible food community with a number of foods that have won national and international awards. We are proud to be part of this exciting food movement.

FB: If you could sum up your product in one word, what would that word be? Art: Absoutely Delicious! Oh, wait, that's two words! Andrea: Heavenonearth. That's one word.

Couldn't agree more. In fact, it reminds me: I've got some leftover chocolates to attend to.

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