Chef/owner Telluride Pizza Kitchen sculpts chocolate for Fling

Chef/owner Telluride Pizza Kitchen sculpts chocolate for Fling

[click “Play” to hear Sergio Gonzalez talk about SMRC, the Fling, and Telluride Pizza Kitchen]

Chocolate 009
Sergio Gonzalez

The San Miguel Resource Center is the Telluride region’s only nonprofit in the business of eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault. The upcoming Chocolate Lovers’ Fling is the Center’s only public fundraiser.

Chocolate’s history dates back at least 1,500 years, when the Mayans of Central America crushed cocoa beans into an unsweetened beverage. Closer to home, last year tests of cylindrical clay jars found in the ruins of Chaco Canyon confirmed the presence of theobromine, a cacao marker. Researchers now believe the ancestors of modern Pueblo people of the Southwest used the jars to drink liquid chocolate. Years later in Europe, chocolate was prescribed for depression and made into love and death potions. (Its bitter flavor masked poisons.) You are in good company if you find the allure of chocolate irresistible. (Cravings may be in part be attributed to the natural chemicals in chocolate, including theobromine, thought to produce feelings of well being.) But did you know chocolate is good for you in other ways? According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, over the past 10 year chocolate has undergone an extreme makeover from “fattening indulgence” to “health food.”

“A steady stream of studies has given cocoa and dark chocolate high marks for cardiovascular benefits, including improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood clotting, coronary artery function, and insulin sensitivity. The most likely explanation for these good effects is that the cocoa bean is rich in flavonoids – naturally occurring antioxidants found abundantly in certain fruits and vegetables, tea and red wine.”

Chocolate, as good for us as the healthy relationships the San Miguel Resource Center promotes, which is why the Center schedules its Fling so close to the Holy of Holies for lovers, Valentine’s Days, when chocolate (along with roses) tops of the list of favorite gifts.

The Fling is a chocoholic’s idea of heaven. Local amateur chefs participate in the Best Non-Professional Category. But the big action is with the professional regional chefs at the the event’s infamous chocolate buffet.

At the buffet tables, top chefs annually give it their all competing for prizes: Creme de la Creme, Most Decadent, Most Whimsical,The Yummiest, Best Theme Interpretation, Chef’s Choice, and People’s Choice, the favorite dessert of Fling attendees.This year, chef/owner Sergio Gonzalez of the very popular Telluride Pizza Kitchen has thrown his toque into the ring.

In the days he owned Tellurice, an Asian fusion eaterie, Gonzalez looked to the Orient for Fling inspiration, re-creating The Great Wall of China and a magnificent dragon, with chocolate mousse inside, kiwi gills, a cloak of strawberries and raspberries, a carved crown of tempered chocolate and truffles, and wings of dark and white chocolate. Now that the chef is also co-owner of an Italian restaurant –  Telluride Pizza Kitchen is a slight misnomer, since the local watering hole serves everything from pizzas to A-list fish, chicken and meat dishes  –  Gonzalez is building a chocolate gondola.

Click the “play” button on his podcast and listen to Sergio explain his sculptural confection, what makes TPK so special and why he supports the San Miguel Resource Center.

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