More than 800 people escaped the freezing rain Friday night by packing into Lansdowne Resort’s banquet hall to enjoy some of the county’s best food and a night of partying and giving back to the community.
YMCA Loudoun County held its 32nd annual Chocolates Galore & More at Lansdowne Resort and Spa. The event featured food and desserts from 23 area restaurants and caterers, ranging from coffee shops and bakeries to steakhouses and senior living communities.
After a few hours of dining, socializing, dancing and voting, eight of those businesses were crowned winners for their taste and appearance.
A panel of judges made up of Jason Reaves, Salamander Resort’s executive pastry chef; Marcus Repp, Lansdowne Resort’s executive chef; Daniela Williams, the owner of Cucinamore; Gail Hooks, the owner of Delectable Dining By Chef G; and Jenna Brownell, the manager at Whippoorwill Farm, voted Lady K’s Catering for best taste desert, Sweetz Bakery for best presentation dessert, 5 Tara Indian Cuisine for best taste hors d’oeuvre and Waltonwood Ashburn for best presentation hors d’oeuvre.
The Peoples’ Choice awards went to Sweetz Bakery for best taste dessert, Nothing Bundt Cake for best presentation dessert, Eddie Merlot’s for best taste hors d’oeuvre, and Generations Gourmet for best presentation hors d’oeuvre.
YMCA Loudoun also presented the Loudoun County Department of Family Services with its Partnership of the Year Award.
Friday’s event was sold out for a second year in a row, with an unofficial count of $70,000 raised. That money, along with proceeds from the silent auction, the Send a Kid to Camp program and raffle tickets, will benefit YMCA Loudoun’s Caring for Community Program, which provides scholarship and financial assistance to the county’s youth, enabling them to participate in different YMCA programs like preschool, after school programs and summer camps.
Although the event has become more popular than ever, YMCA Loudoun Business Director Kasia Bochenek said that the organization at this point has no plans to move to a larger venue next year.
“We are very pleased that Chocolates has become one of Loudoun County’s most popular social events of the winter season,” she said. “The growing popularity of this event means the Y can better fulfill its mission and serve more children in Loudoun County.”