On Sunday afternoon in Chelsea at the Metropolitan Room the first thing you'd see when looking at Jackie "The Singing Chef" Gordon's Chocabaret event listing is the notation in bold, white letters: SOLD OUT.
You may remember my post earlier this year about Jackie's Kickstarter campaign to fund Chocabaret. I tried several chocolate recipes of hers that came out dynamite and, like many, was excited to contribute in some way to Jackie's dream. Well, the Kickstarter was fully funded with a few days to spare before it ended and garnered a bit more money for Jackie to make a gorgeous chocolate (not real chocolate) necklace to wear for the debut of Chocabaret. The money was raised. Plans were set. Chocolate sorted. It was time.
Sold Out doesn't quite capture the packed audience at the Metropolitan Room. There were foodies, food bloggers, chocolate enthusiasts, friends and family of Jackie's. But there were also those who didn't know about Chocabaret and came to it by way of a friend who donated to the Kickstarter campaign and were unable to make it. I spoke to one audience member who got his seats from a friend in Alabama who donated and couldn't make it out to NYC. "I heard there was chocolate and singing and I was down," he said. Another audience member with a big smile on her face when I spoke with her after the show was gushing about Jackie non-stop. "She's so lively. It was so much fun!" She'd gotten tickets from a friend in Pittsburgh who donated to Kickstarter but also wasn't able to make it.
I saw how much went into Jackie's preparation. The woman is a powerhouse. I see where she gets it too, her mom Bernice is just fantastic. She knew where everything was, what needed to be done, and was the calming force while we got things set up.
Then, the lights go out. The stage is lit. Drinks have been delivered. Time for Jackie's entrance. The velvet curtain separating the performance space from the bar opened and Jackie sauntered in wearing a kind of lab coat with Divalicious Chocolates logo on her pocket. She welcomed everyone. The piano accompaniment played. Warming the crowd up Jackie made some jokes, thanked her "chums" (new ones and old ones), and then the reveal! A gorgeous strapless gown with the chocolate necklace draped over. She was chocolate head-to-toe but not in the literal sense. Though when Jackie noted this she got some hoots and hollers in the positive for wearing chocolate while singing. A saucy crowd? Of course, which also reflected their enthusiasm.
Chocabaret is not just chocolate and singing. It's a full immersion of the senses. It's a chocolate tasting. Getting educated on the aspects of chocolate. It's interactive with you and Jackie (who has owned her own chocolate shops and bakeries not just here but overseas). It's a full on blow-your-mind kind of show that showcases the chocolatiers that have supplied items as well as what you're able to taste on your palate.
The show was carefully planned out. Cocoa beans available for you to know the origins of your chocolate. Nibbling chocolates (milk and dark) at each table to satisfy you before the show began. Saltines to clean the palate. Seltzer on hand to cleanse. And cards from donating chocolate companies as well as program and flavor wheel. A lot to take in but don't worry Jackie will be guiding you through the process.
There's a lot to considering an item good chocolate. Some may like it sweet, some may like it bitter, some may like additions to their chocolates. If so, Jackie had you covered on all bases. White chocolate? Yes! And you know what if it has cocoa bean/butter in it it can be considered chocolate. Learned that from Jackie. The higher the percentage the more actual chocolate and less of everything else in your bar. Maybe you'd like some liqueur in yours? Or some nuts on top? Maybe some edible gold dusting? Done, done, and done.One of my faves was the Elvis skull filled chocolate with a hint of caramel and banana from Fika Choklad and the milk chocolate and toasted white chocolate from Fruition Chocolate. In addition to Jackie's chocolate bark with dark chocolate drizzle and sesame seeds giving a fantastic crunch. Yes, yes, and yes to all. I like my chocolate sweet, yup, I do.
Now it's time to open your box and let the tasting begin. Nine chocolates not including a tenth to take home. Your tasting started with white and milk and got progressively darker, in chocolate. Your box encompassed items from Fruition Chocolate, Oliver Kita Chocolates, Roni-Sue Chocolate (her new storefront on Forsyth St. just opened!), Fika Choklad, Bond Street Chocolate, Raaka Chocolate, Hudson Chocolate, Lagusta's Luscious, Fine and Raw Chocolate, and an additional one (Jackie's own bark) for you to take home if you're a bit overwhelmed.
Jackie guided you through every morsel with a song for each of the nine chocolates. The smooth and warm tone of Jackie's voice was enough to ease you into and out of your tasting in preparation for the next bite. Sweet and slow songs that may make you tear up thinking of home or a catchy tune she came up with for "percentages" in chocolate to a deeply felt rendition with so much soul you couldn't help but clap wildly. The music helped to invoke the feeling and background of each chocolate and enlivened the experience for many who may just like eating chocolate but aren't experiencing it.
Through it all Jackie kept a cool demeanor and the audience laughing and calm while ensuring everyone was all set. As things got straightened out and audience members sated the show did not stop, it did not lose momentum, and Jackie kept a smile on everyone's face. How could you not with that voice and chocolate in front of you?
In the end the crowd was amped up. Not just because of the chocolate but because of the overall entertainment. As Jackie thanked those who supported her and Chocabaret she got teary-eyed and you couldn't help get teary-eyed to see a dream realized and the appreciation and happiness it brought the crowd. Food continues to bring people together and when you have someone as knowledgeable and talented as Jackie Gordon to further promote it you'll leave with a smile on your face, and a high, from sugar and life.