Nov 8, 2008

Lifestyle - Chocolate only a Superhero could resist

Renata Espinosa

New York – While there are some people in the world who profess to hate chocolate, there's still very little arguing with the New York Chocolate Show, now in its 11th year, and the sheer joy a show-goer gets from its feats of chocolate engineering both edible and otherwise - "otherwise" being the all-chocolate fashion show, featuring several former "Project Runway" designers, that kicked off the three-day chocolate trade show in New York on Thursday, Nov. 6.

Pastry chefs and fashion designers paired up to create a "Superhero" themed collection of one-of-a-kind chocolate ensembles, showcasing some of the most elaborate and delicate uses imaginable for the beloved cocoa confection. Ironman, Barbarella, Wonder Woman and Lara Croft Tomb Raider were just some of the impressive creations. Chocolate was shaped in daring bustiers, gladiator-like skirts and fashioned into superhero capes.

Backstage, the scene was a chaotic and heady blend of models and pastry chefs dashing around trying to carefully apply various chocolate details to the costumes. "Put it on at the last minute," was one assistant chef's summary of how to keep the chocolate from melting as she applied bits of a fabric fastener to one side of a chocolate panel intended for the "Ironman" costume suit, designed by Faith Drobin and Michelle Tampakis.

"Project Runway" Season 4 alum Kit Scarbo designed a chocolate costume with Knipschildt Chocolatier. Her superhero character, Black Phoenix from "X-Men," combined wings of "fire" made from unusual items sprayed with liquid chocolate: pheasant feathers, a Christmas garland and even drinking straws. But it wasn't easy, said Scarbo, who said working with the chocolate had been challenging.

"The chocolate stuck to everything except for the silver bits," Scarbo said. "So we had to paint the silver and then spray the chocolate over that." In other words, don't eat that one.

Artist Laurance Rassin invented his own superhero, which he called "Bittersweet Black Widow." "She's killing her prey with her bittersweet chocolate," Rassin quipped. He combined silk fabric printed with his images from his paintings with chocolate details designed by chef Jansen Chan like chopsticks in her hair and a white and dark chocolate "paillette" bikini.

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