When we finally knew that we would 99.9% (I always leave a 0.01% chance to manage my own expectations, in case things don't go as planned) be one of the Chocolate Makers to join the Philippine Delegation at the 25th Anniversary of Salon du Chocolat in Paris last year, I called my sister, and Co-Founder Iman, and broke the news with "Paris, First Class, International..."
We giggled! We dreamt of this. This is it. Co Chocolat's moment.
In what seems to feel like ages ago, on February of 2019, the Philippine Cacao Council posted an invitation to all chocolate makers in the Philippines to join the Philippine Delegation, through the support and sponsorship of the Department of Agriculture Philippines, to participate and exhibit at Salon du Chocolat in Paris France. We fulfilled the initial requirements and hoped for the best.
By early March of 2019, I fell ill and had to be operated on immediately. Iman also unexpectedly became pregnant, just when she stopped planning to be pregnant. I was not recovering fast as I hoped and by our calculation, Iman was expected to deliver by mid October, which means she may not be able to join me, in case we really do end up participating. By March, we were not even sure if our dreams to participate at Salon du Chocolat in Paris that year would come into fruition. Yet, we prayed, planned and operated AS IF we were really going to be there.
We plan and Allah plans and verily Allah is the Best of Planners.
Luchie Suguitan with Val Turtur attending the first meeting of the Philippine Delegates of Salon du Chocolat Paris 2019.
This week of October exactly a year ago, I remember being physically and mentally stressed preparing for for THE trip to Paris. I have not even unpacked my suitcase from my trip from the previous week, and there I was - jetlagged, stressed, pushing the chocolate wheels to its limits to make more chocolate bars, more chocolates bars, and worried that I'm unable to fit the whole chocolate factory into my baggage for the Salon du Chocolat exhibition.
I had over 90 KGs worth of chocolates on my checked in luggage. How I could get it out of the French Airport Customs, I don't know... I just prayed really hard and with God's mercy, the Airport Customs let me go with my chocolates.
First to arrive, first to ingress at the Philippine Chocolate Pavilion.
With so many pop up events under our belt, we've gotten used to the fact that we're always the first to ingress...and almost always, we're always the last to egress!
Although limited in space, we were very determined to bring the Co Chocolat experience in Paris...and so we present to you our mobile grazing tray!
I honestly could not have done this on my own had it not been with the support of the Co Chocolat Team in the Philippines, Dubai and my family in Europe. Pictured with me here is Carsten, my German-French-English speaking nephew, who helped me and remained patient throughout the event. Here he is holding our mobile grazing tray.
And of course, my talented niece, Ameerah, who take care of taking photos and videos during the event. She also translated for me as she is also multilingual.
As I look back at the videos and photos of last year's, I appreciate better now as luxuries, what I thought then were obligations and chores. I remember being stressed during the trip, which I could have probably managed better by reacting better. It was not necessary to be stressed all the time.