Dozens of chocalcoholics congregated at on Ritchie Highway Saturday afternoon to participate in the 2nd Annual Chocolate Olympics. The event was open to everyone and free. And so were the many samples of scrumptious chocolate confections.
The contest was the brainchild of shop owner Victoria Stagmer, who came up with the idea of a chocolate version after watching the Canadian Olympics a few years back.
“I wanted to do something to honor the Olympics and bring people into the store. The thought just popped into my head one morning,” said Stagmer. “We play Olympic music and give out gold, silver and bronze medals.”
“It is truly an amateur competition. No one involved in the food industry are allowed to enter. The recipe does not have to be their own, but has to have been executed by them.”
“At first I thought I would only do this every four years. But after the huge success last time, how could I not?”
“Last year’s event was held in between the two blizzards,” she added. “Free chocolate gets people here I guess.”
This year’s entries, down from 10 last year, represented China, Austria, Kenya, Costa Rica and Jamaica in spirit. Olympians were required to supply samples of their favorite chocolate confection entry, which included cookies, trifles, cake and cheesecake. Store patrons supplied the palate and, of course, votes.
Volunteer Sierra Gamber, 14, handed out pink ballots as shoppers entered the store while explaining the rules and directing taste-tasters to the various stations.
And then it was game-on as voters made for the tasting stations and piles of disposable forks.
“Does the no double-dipping rule mean you can’t get a second helping,” joked taste tester Redina Miller as she plunged her fork into a torte.
On the Q-T she fessed up that both she and her husband of 43 years, Mike Miller, secretly choose the same entry as their favorite.
“Our tastes run pretty much the same,” she added. “But it’s hard to pick just one. They’re all so good.”
Jan Stewart, a regular at the shop, also thought all the selections were, “just yummy.”
“I think this event is just wonderful,” she added. “Costa Rica is my favorite though. It’s wonderful.”
Of course it goes without saying that only votes, not calories counted for the day. And in the end there can only be three winners - a gold, silver and bronze. Winning top honors again for the second time was Caroline Tuck Nold of Severna Park and representing China with a . Nold is also a member of the Patch Mom's Council, congratulations!
Kathy Stagmer, representing Kenya, took home the silver for her decadent chocolate cookies and Corey Bradley representing Costa Rica, took home the bronze for his fantastic chocolate cheesecake.
Amy Leahy of Severna Park entered her amazing "Mozart" hazelnut cake, with red hearts and raspberries- definitely an Olympic favorite on the dessert table.
Last year’s silver medal winner Robert Haines was on hand for the festivities but was unable to participate this year as he had just returned from traveling abroad.
“I was in England and not able to create something for this year,” he said. “In fact, I just flew in last night and boy are my arms tired.”
No doubt he will be up for the challenge next year as will be Terri Rector, an Alexandria, VA., resident and 23-year chef and cooking instructor at the Arlington Career Center. Rector came in support of her friend Chris, an employee of the store. It seems her specialty is chocolate pound cake. Word is that it’s divine.
All fun aside, did you know that according to the American Dietetic Association, ADA, a small amount of dark chocolate eaten daily can lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol by up to 10 percent, balance certain hormones, offer heart disease protection, reduce inflammation, have a positive effect on the immune system and our well-being, and even moisturize our skin.
What better reason do you need to enjoy chocolate? Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.