Ghirardelli's Annual Chocolate Festival Brings the Sweets

It's often said that chocolate is better than sex. And while we can't say if that's true, we can say this: a whole lot of one of them will be had this weekend -- at least for people who make it out to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. Now in its 18th year, the chocolate festival has grown to epic proportions. Additional street closures allowed for another tasting booth on Beach St., extra chef demonstrations, and a larger silent auction.

"We doubled the amount of Ghirardelli chocolate that will be at the festival," says Kym Hough, Ghirardelli's senior marketing manager for restaurant and retail. "It's an explosion of chocolate."

That's not all it's an explosion of. This year sees the introduction of the Chocolate and Wine Pavilion, where guests can sample local wines along with their sweet snacks. The pavilion requires an extra ticket and is only for folks 21 and up, but there are plenty of family friendly activities as well.

The Earthquake ice-cream eating contest will hold a special division for the kids, with a shorter version of the famous "Earthquake Sundae." The contest happens three times a day, and adults compete with the full eight-topping eight-scoop version of the Earthquake:

Ready for the Earthquake eating contest?

For the more intellectually minded chocolate lover, there is "Chocolate School" and, of course, the always-popular chef demonstrations. Chocolate School is taught by Ghirardelli's "Chocolate Professor" Steve Genzoli, and takes the audience through every step of chocolate making, all the way from bean to bar. The chef demonstrations are held on two stages this year, with one of them hosted by chef Tim Nugent, who was a contestant on BRAVO's Top Chef Just Desserts and is the Executive Pastry Chef at Scala's Bistro in the Sir Francis Drake hotel.

So bring the kids, bring the sweet tooth and bring your inner wine snob, because there's something for all of them at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. And it's all for a good cause, as 100% of the proceeds from the festival go to Project Open Hand.

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival starts on Saturday, September 14th at 12 p.m. in Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point St., S.F. Public events are free, tasting tickets are $20-$125; visit

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