Harvard Square Business Association hosts 10th annual Taste of Chocolate Festival

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By Claire Wallace and Alex Melagrano, news staff

Harvard Square was completely packed for its 10th annual Taste of Chocolate Festival, which residents said brought in more people than ever before. The main event, a free chocolate tasting, was held Saturday in Brattle Square, but many restaurants in the Harvard area offered chocolate-themed specials throughout the weekend.

Many vendors set up booths in the square to hand out free samples of their chocolate-themed products. The food vendors themselves were in the center of Harvard Square by Brattle Street, but lines ran all the way down Brattle and up to Massachusetts Avenue.

“I have never seen that many people in the square,” pastry chef Joshua Livesy said. “We arrived 45 minutes before the event started and the end of the line was already out of sight. It was an exceptionally warm day for January and people really love free chocolate. Even the people who waited for over an hour in line were still happy by the time they got to us.”

Despite the size of the crowd, vendors had their serving skills down to a T and served napkin-wielding customers as though they were machinery in an assembly line. Many showcased uniquely-prepared dishes.

“We made our house specialty chocolate tiramisu for the event,” said Richard Hayes, an employee at Toscano restaurant.

Joshua Livesy, the pastry chef at Harvest restaurant, whipped up some special concoctions.

“On the Harvest menu, I ran a Valrhona dark chocolate crémeux with red wine soaked cherries, chocolate walnut crumble, date walnut ice cream and dehydrated chocolate meringue,” Livesy said.

Other vendors in the event included Cabot’s Candy, David’s Tea, Henrietta’s Table, Pressed Juicery and Seacoast Sweets.

“We set up a table and we had brews of some teas. We have Chocolate Rocket, hot chocolate and Read My Lips. We just had a bunch of our teas that are infused with chocolate,” said Jacqueline Donnelly, a David’s Tea employee.

The event was supposed to last one hour, but because of the massive turnout it ended up lasting more than three hours. This attracted a lot of customers to local businesses.

“We definitely had more customers,” Donnelly said. “It was just because the line for everything was so long we had people seeing the line and deciding to go shopping instead.”

A percussion group performed in the clearing at the intersection of Brattle Street and Brattle Square, which helped boost the energy of the crowd. Kids and adults were dancing, and many people filmed the performers between bites of chocolate.

“Myself, the marketing team and our general manager, Jeff Osowski, were in the square for the event passing out 1,000 samples — we served a mini version of the dessert on a spoon,” Livesy said.

Many local business owners sang the praises of the Harvard Square Business Association, the organization that hosted the event, for the work they do for the community and the efforts they put into bringing more people to Harvard Square each year for this festival.

Local establishments like family-owned Goorin Bros. Hat Shop got more business during the event, as well. Keith Pitcher, who works at the shop’s Cambridge location, told The News that the amount of people in the square this weekend was much larger than he had seen in a long time.

“We definitely had a lot of people in the square because of the festival,” he said. “That was really nice to see because Harvard has such a diverse crowd of people. It definitely gave us a boost in business.”

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