Food and Drink


Sagrys Aelbrengt’s Obsession With Chocolate

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Dear Chocolate Lovers,

Your love for all things dark, decadent and delicious did not gone unnoticed, especially by the chocolate savants of Melbourne. To the delight of many chocolatiers, satisfaction came in the form of the Melt Away Chocolate Festival.

Hosted by the City of Melbourne, the Festival occurred in the depth of the Docklands over three days in mid August. Described as an opportunity to celebrate and support the local chocolate makers within Victoria, the festival hosted an array of exciting events, including chocolate drinks, Chocoholic tours, tasting bars, kid’s entertainment, educational workshops and master classes.

Sagrys Aelbrengt, the Director of the Meltaway Chocolate Festival, has described the event as a ‘complete chocolate pampering experience’.  I shot him some questions to break down the feel of the festival and discuss what he wanted visitors to get out of the experience.

What is the most exciting part about the festival for you? What would you tell your friends to visit first?
I am most excited by our tasting bars; a unique pairing of chocolate and champagne, whisky or beer allows our guests to experience delicious new flavour combinations that they may not have encountered before. This is something that we are already looking to expand on next year, and maybe even introduce a high tea cruise.

How has your career led you in this direction? What are some other projects that you are invested in or have previously been involved in?
A number of years ago, I worked as a marketing manager for a global IT company and fell in love with the rush that came with organising large scale events, trade shows and customer focused days. Since moving to Australia, I have been involved in the Waterside Blacksmithing and Metal Art Festival, set up a few concerts for jazz pianist, Jef Neve, and laid the first bricks for a handful of bespoke festivals that we hope to launch in the coming years. In 2013, however, I held presidency at the Belgian Club of Victoria and was introduced to the Immigration Museum’s chocolate festival. I experienced first-hand the public’s love of chocolate and it really sparked my passion to bring Melt Away to life as an annual event.

What is the most difficult part of planning the festival?
Putting a limit on what we can offer customers, as there is literally so much you can do with chocolate.

If you had to identify a feeling that you want attendees to walk away from the festival with, what would it be?
I want our visitors to walk away feeling proud to live in a city, which boasts so much expertise and creativity around chocolate; we can start calling Melbourne the Chocolate Capital of Australia. Melbourne has it all; know-how, technique, creativity, unique flavour combinations, inventive products. We hope our visitors will mark August 2016 in their calendars because they won’t want to miss the next edition; bigger, with new ideas, more exhibitors and even more chocolate.

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