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    Chocolate Dreams
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    On Monday, February 2nd, GuardiaCare's 10th Annual Chocolate Dreams, one of the best events of the year, will be held at Frazier Hall at Bellarmine University from 6 to 9 p.m. Here are the need-to-know facts to prepare you for this chocolate foodie daydream that is miraculously real life.

    The following Louisville original establishments (and corresponding talented chefs) have been confirmed for this palatable event:

    Art Eatables - Kelly Ramsey

    Atria Senior Living - Chad Welch

    Belterra Casino Resort - Cindy Kerr

    Brownsboro Park - Jim Uptain

    Buck’s Restaurant– Andrew Welenken

    Cake Flour - Claudia Delatorre

    Cellar Door Chocolates - Erika Chavez-Graziano

    Chef Z – Zaundra Blair

    Guaca Mole - Fernando Martinez

    Gumby’s Custom Catering - Phyllis “Gumby” Cornwell

    Hillbilly Tea- David Scales

    Loop 22 – Eric Morris

    Marketplace Restaurant - Dallas McGarity

    Old 502 Winery - Eric Gurevich

    Roux - Dustin Staggers

    Sodexo Catering - Mark Lantino

    The Comfy Cow - Becky Douglas

    Vincenzo’s - Serge Katz

    Volare - Joshua Moore

    Zi Olive - Nancy Russman


    Hors d’oeuvres from Sodexo Catering will be offered before the chocolate flows freely in all shapes and forms:

    Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Cups

    Crostini with Spicy Mango Shrimp Salsa

    Caprese Skewer

    Antipasta Skewer

    Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce


    The six categories for competing chefs to enter their finest chocolate-inspired creations from all over Louisville:

    Chocolate Savory

    Chocolate International

    Chocolate Bluegrass

    Chocolate Brain Freeze

    Best Display

    (Most coveted) Annual People’s Choice Award

    Chocolate Dreams

    I had the privilege of going last year to my first Chocolate Dreams, and believe me- these ambitious chefs go all out. This is by far one of my most favorite foodie events of the year, and it's a can't-miss. 

    Susan Smith, Executive Director of GuardiaCare, the organization brainchild behind this decadent affair, was kind enough to preview what we can expect for the 10th anniversary of Chocolate Dreams. It’s the 10th year this year for Chocolate Dreams. Are you doing anything in particular to commemorate the 10th anniversary?

    Susan Smith: Yes, we have changed our venue. It will be held this year for the first time at Frazier Hall on the campus of Bellarmine University. Why did you choose that venue?

    SS: It’s centrally located. Parking is good. It’s very near the interstate for people to be able to get to it. And it accommodated the space needs that we have, as the event has grown. How much has it grown? When we spoke last year, you said Chocolate Dreams initially started off as a rather small event of just about ten people. What kind of numbers are you looking at this year?

    SS: …It continues to grow every year. This year we’re expecting about 350 people.

    Chocolate Dreams Bourbon This year, I saw news that there will be an opportunity to purchase a rare bottle of Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon as part of the auction.

    SS: The second big thing. In celebration of our tenth anniversary, one of our board members very very graciously donated and autographed a bottle of a very rare Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Twenty-three year-old reserve bourbon. It was aged in the barrel for 23 years and we estimate that it was bottled around 1998 to 2000. And it is signed by [Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery president] Julian Van Winkle III, who is the master distiller for that particular crop of bourbon.

    The other thing we’ve done this year in celebration of our 10th anniversary is that we have gone to an online bidding opportunity for people to be able to be aware of both our silent and our live auction items in advance. People have started bidding on the Pappy bottle as well as all of our other auction items. One of the other things that is generating a lot of interest is that we have a Louisville Slugger bat that was autographed by [Hall of Famer] Johnny Bench from the Cincinnati Reds… Those are probably our two leading items right now.

    … One of our items that is always extremely popular is dinner hosted by [legendary Louisville basketball coach] Denny and Susan Crum in their home. We have that back again this year, along with the meal provided by [Executive] Chef Dave Danielson from Churchill Downs. We’re able to build on some of the things that our followers of Chocolate Dreams have enjoyed in the past, and continue to bring those back. But then we also have some new things as well this year.

    And finally, among our chocolatiers, we have a number of new companies and restaurants that are participating this year. Gumby’s Catering for the first time is participating. The 19 [Steak & Seafood] Restaurant at Belterra [Casino Resort]- their chef is coming. Sodexo Catering, who is doing the catering for us with our hors d’oeuvres at Bellarmine is also going to be participating. We have the chefs at Atria Senior Living who are back. And we have Loop 22 and Roux and several other newer restaurants that have chosen to participate.

    Then we have some of our all-time favorites coming back: Buck’s Restaurant, Vincenzo’s, Volare, and Brownsboro Park Senior Community. It’s a very, very nice mix of veterans as well as new participants. We’re very much looking forward to providing just a fabulous experience for our guests that night. I still remember Vincenzo’s had a chocolate sponge cake that was to die for last year. That was one of my favorites and it still stands out.

    SS: Well, as you know, having been to the event, the chefs are very competitive when it comes to competing for the… awards for the various categories. One of the most coveted categories is People’s Choice, so that people like you who still remember what they had a year ago have the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, that is my favorite. I want to be sure that that chef gets my vote.’ So that everybody will have the opportunity to sample as much as they want from any of the chocolatiers and to pick the one that they think is worthy of People’s Choice recognition. That’s always an exciting opportunity.   

    Chocolate Dreams Vincenzo's    

    Vincenzo's Chocolate Sponge Cake from Chocolate Dreams 2014 I also remember last year you mentioned a chocolate hand-painted sculpture. I know I saw a Cinderella shoe made purely of chocolate while at Chocolate Dreams. Have you heard of anything like that on the horizon for this year? I know that the chefs guard their creations beforehand.

    SS: I have not heard about what the displays are this year, so I will be as surprised as you are. The chefs keep their recipes and their displays pretty well close to the vest ahead of time. Because they’re very particular and they don’t want somebody to copy something that they are planning to do. Is there any behind-the-scenes intel you can offer?

    SS: … I have done a couple of media presentations with some of the chefs. So I know that we’ve got some wonderful, wonderful chocolate-rubbed pulled pork from one of the chefs with two different sauces that contain bourbon and chocolate. And while I’m saying that, I should also mention that we are very, very excited to have the Kentucky Distillers’ Association coming back with their bourbon tasting. And they’ll have 17 different types of bourbon there for people to sample. Then, the wine this year that we’re featuring is being provided by Old 502 Winery. So there’s very definitely a Kentucky Proud, or Kentucky Pride, farm-to-table, homegrown flavor to both the bourbon and the wines this year. Wasn’t it last year that was your first collaborative experience with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association?

    SS: It was, and they were so excited that they couldn’t wait to come back. They said it was a good opportunity for them to present bourbons from a variety of different distillers and a variety of different types of bourbon. But it also was a great opportunity for them to connect with the chefs who were there and be able to suggest to the chefs different pairings of a given type of bourbon with the type of dish that they brought, whether it be an appetizer or an entrée like the pulled pork, or a dessert, or even frozen dessert. In addition to recently adding Kentucky Distillers’ Association, and you mentioned newcomers Loop 22, Roux- how do you reach out to potential new restaurants?

    SS: We have a- what we call a participants sub-committee of… Chocolate Dreams. And throughout the year, those people who serve on that committee keep an eye out for new restaurants that are opening, new senior facilities that are opening that have high-end food, chefs who have moved to another location in the year.

    In fact, David [Scales], the chef at Hillbilly Tea, actually participated in Chocolate Dreams last year from a different restaurant [Lilly’s Bistro]. He had such a great experience that he is participating on behalf of Hillbilly Tea, where he is very excited to be. [Hillbilly Tea] actually has participated in the past, but I don’t think they were there last year. So, Chef David wanted to be sure that they were there this year. What do you hope people will take away from including high-end senior living facilities like Atria Senior Living? I remember I was surprised with how delicious the food was and how beautiful the presentation was last year.

    SS: You know, most of us think of senior living as nursing homes and sometimes people’s stereotypical view of nursing homes is not very positive. But in truth, Louisville is a mecca for wonderful senior living communities who are headquartered here, …and they take their responsibility to provide top quality food, restaurant-quality food, to their residents. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Atrias and the Brownsboro Parks and other senior living facilities to showcase just how upscale and wonderful their food is. It’s a great marketing opportunity for them to tell the community, and for the community to sort of break down the stereotypes about what senior living opportunities really offer to them. You mentioned last year how ultimately, Chocolate Dreams is a great fundraiser for GuardiaCare and the services they provide for the people that cannot afford to pay for the full amount of services. Can you elaborate a little more on what services the proceeds benefit?

    SS: …[GuardiaCare assists] people who can no longer make quality decisions about their life and their finances. So, we work with them to be able to make sure that their assets are protected and their decisions are made in their best interest- whether that be the type of medical care or living situation or financial decision that need to be made- and there’s no one in someone’s family to be able to step in and do that for them.

    GuardiaCare is unique in the services that we offer. There’s no other non-profit organization anywhere in the states that does the type of guardianship…or financial management services that we provide. …Our vast majority of our clients do come from the Metro Louisville area and that is our focus, but with power of attorney and mediation services and guardianships, we’re willing to consider people who live in other parts of the state as well, because there is a need that no one is meeting there. By including the catering restaurants for senior living, is that a conscious choice to tie it all into the cause?

    SS: Absolutely. Many of our clients reside in facilities and our care plans are very individualized according the values and needs of our clients. It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase the facilities that not only our own clients, but perhaps those people that are in their families and in need would benefit from considering. What stood out in your mind from last year and what are you most looking forward to this year with the event?

    SS: I really liked the frozen chocolate concoctions last year and I think it was The Comfy Cow who won… I loved the Chocolate Hot Brown from last year. This will be my fifth one… there was some chili that was made with chocolate that I really did enjoy. And then I always enjoy Zi Olive’s entries, because they tend to bring healthy eating, like fruits and vegetables, drizzled with their chocolate olive oils and balsamics that they bring. I think last year they had salsa with chocolate balsamic drizzled over it. One year, they brought a variety of fruits that had chocolate balsamic. And I like that lighter eating opportunity as well as some of the heavier things.

    Chocolate Dreams

    The chocolate twist of a Kentucky Hot Brown from Chocolate Dreams 2014 What can you preview about the hors d’oeuvres this year?

    SS: Actually, we’re going to have upgraded hors d’oeuvres. It isn’t just chocolate and chocolate concoctions. We will have five different types of hors d’oeuvres. Those hors d’oeuvres will be passed through the crowd throughout the evening from 6:00 to 7:00 while people are also having the opportunity to sample chocolate, the bourbon, the wine- it’s just fabulous, that’s all I can say. And how do you think adding bourbon has enhanced the event? The chefs are most likely being more adventurous with the chance to infuse bourbon into their cooking. Do you think it is changing the way they are competing?

    SS: I have noticed that using bourbon has become much more intentional with our bourbon offerings. [The chefs] have started adding bourbon. Many of them will have bourbon as one of the features of what their chocolate creations [become]. What would you like Louisville audiences to know? Why should someone go to this event?

    SS: Number one- It is a fabulous opportunity to get to understand the variety of great chefs that we have in this community and also taste wonderful, wonderful chocolate and bourbon and wine…

    But always keep in mind that the reason GuardiaCare puts the effort into doing this is to support the services for persons with disabilities and seniors... And that is what an event like this enables GuardiaCare to do- to be there as an advocate and to serve in a supportive and protective role for people who may have traumatic brain injury, they may have dementia, they may have substance abuse or mental illness that makes it difficult or impossible for them to manage their lives. We’re really here as life managers- not only for those people, but for family members who may not be able to provide for them, because of being out of state or perhaps being overwhelmed with other responsibilities in their lives. Knowing that GuardiaCare is here to really be a solution for people who need someone to make good decisions for them is what it’s all about.

    ...It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. $45 of very ticket that you purchase as an individual goes as a charitable contribution, and you get $30 of benefits. And it’s tax deductible! 


    Chocolate Dreams


    Single: $75

    Couple: $135

    Click here to purchase your golden ticket! 

    Click here to browse the list of enticing auction items. You never know- you could be the one that gets a hold of the elusive, illustrious bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. It's sealed in gold wax.

    There will be raffle prospects ranging from high school spirit baskets to basketballs autographed by John Calipari (UK), Rick Pitino (U of L), Scotty Davenport and Chance Dugan (Bellarmine), and Ray Harper (WKU); and footballs by Bobby Petrino (U of L) and Jeff Brohm (WKU).  Chocolate Dreams-goers can buy as many raffle tickets as they want at the price of10 raffles for $20 and bet all of the raffles on a particular item of interest, to increase chances of winning.

    It will be a veritable chocoholic foodie bash of the ages. Frazier Hall on Monday is going to be the ultimate party celebrating all the finest chefs in Louisville, with chocolate panache. Be merry, be cacao-giddy, and be charitable. All for the honor of a well-deserving cause! 


    Cover Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/Alexander Tihonov; Logo Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/Luiz Rocha; Third Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/donfiore; Fourth Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/Africa Studio; Fifth Photo: Courtesy of Julie Lamb; Sixth Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/AlexAnnaButs; Seventh Photo: Courtesy of Julie Lamb; Last Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/IndigoStockPhoto

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    About Julie Lamb

    Curly-haired owner of one massive sweet tooth, believer of Harry Potter and Disney fairytales, and a fierce lover of all things literary and the arts.

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