May 26, 2015

Intermittent clouds

A chocolate for all tastes

By LISA HLAVINKA | Staff Writer

MEDINA — People got their fill of chocolate — milk, dark and white — Saturday at the For the Love of Chocolate Festival.

Dozens of chocolatiers showed off their creations at the Medina County Community Center on the fairgrounds. Some were international brands like Godiva, but many of the vendors were locally owned businesses.

Most of the local chocolatiers said they operated home-based businesses. The winner of the Decadent Chocolate Dessert contest, Peggy Barry of Just Desserts, concocted her prize-winning chocolate truffle tort in her Medina home. Her creation also can be found at Cool Beans Café, 103 W. Liberty St., Medina.

Barry, a state-licensed home baker, became interested in the trade by cooking with her grandmother, who was very involved with the Medina chapter of the American Red Cross, which has put on the festival for 12 years. It is the biggest fundraiser for the chapter.

Katie Mellinger (right), 6, waits patiently while her sister, Jessica, 4, finishes up her chocolate ice cream cone Saturday afternoon at the For the Love of Chocolate Festival at the Medina County Community Center on the fairgrounds. (Shirley Ware | Photo Editor)

Festivalgoers could buy either $5 or $10 tickets for five or 10 chocolate samples, respectively. All of the proceeds from selling samples go to the Medina Red Cross.

Restricted by at-home facilities, many chocolatiers said they worked until the wee hours making hundreds of samples.

Rose Birth, founder of Rose’s Kitchen Delights, and her daughter, Joni Reno, worked until 3:30 a.m. to make chocolate-covered pretzels.

“And then we got up at 5 to keep working,” Reno said.

Like Just Desserts, Birth runs her business from her home kitchen in Medina. Although she has made chocolate for 25 years, Birth founded Rose’s Kitchen just two weeks ago. A cancellation from another vendor allowed her to set up at the festival.

Her star creation is her hot pepper chocolate, a spicy mixture made with cayenne pepper.

Other offerings at the festival included the creations of Diabetic Delights. Founder Lenora Taylor began making sweets for diabetics while working as a police officer. She said many of her fellow officers were diabetic, and, years later, Taylor herself became diabetic.

“I always brought baked goods in, and they asked me if I could modify them,” she said.

For the last seven years, she has been perfecting recipes in her Wadsworth home, using applesauce, soy and tofu as substitutes for sugar and other gluten products.

Tony Stanislo, chef and restaurant management instructor at the Medina County Career Center, joked that his chocolate-covered strawberries were popular because they are “sinfully healthy” treats.

The line for the strawberries was so long, he had to limit festivalgoers to one strawberry to accommodate more people.

Twelve of his students worked for 10 hours on Friday to make 2,100 strawberries and 500 cream puffs.

“Ten hours and melted chocolate everywhere,” he laughed.

Hlavinka may be reached at 330-721-4048 or