Chocolate won’t really kill you.
But wouldn’t it be a delicious way to go?
Death by Chocolate, an annual Exploration Place fundraiser now in its sixth year, is on Saturday. It will fill the halls of the museum with potentially lethal amounts of chocolate, both in food and drink form, available to attendees in unlimited quantities.
The event, which draws more than 500 people each year, was the brainchild of former museum president Albert Meloni. A museum he’d previously led put on a similar event, and Meloni had seen first hand the irresistible allure of chocolate.
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Wichita’s event features local restaurants, chocolatiers and bakers, each presenting a table full of chocolate treats.
Some, such as original event sponsor Cocoa Dolce and fellow local chocolatier Cero’s, put out trays and trays of their signature chocolate creations. Others find unexpected ways to feature the star ingredient. In past years, vendors have offered chocolate chicken wings and French toast sandwiches stuffed with bacon and melted chocolate.
Attendees also can help themselves to chocolate martinis and other chocolaty adult beverages. “Chocolate recovery stations,” featuring more sensible, non-chocolate appetizers, are scattered throughout the museum to help visitors pace themselves toward their sugar crash.
“It really shows the number of people we have who are obsessed with chocolate in our community” said Cocoa Dolce owner Beth Tully. “It’s something that’s really appealing to people: The whole idea of chocolate food, chocolate drink, anything you could ever want to have that’s chocolate-based.”
This year’s Death By Chocolate features 15 food vendors, including the two chocolatiers, several caterers and cake makers, plus restaurants such as Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Luca Italian Kitchen, Two Brothers BBQ, Carlos O’ Kelly’s and more.
The theme is tied to Exploration Place’s geocaching exhibit, and vendors were asked to take a “pirate” approach. Tully is setting her station up to resemble a Tiki bar and will offer three different “rum shots” — Caribbean rum in liquid cordial form encased in dark chocolate.
The event also will feature live music, a silent auction and an airing of the University of Kansas’ Final Four appearance in the NCAA tournament — just in case some people are having trouble choosing between basketball and chocolate.
The museum’s exhibits are all open to attendees, who are asked to come in cocktail dress.
Tully, who attends a lot of fundraisers around Wichita, says Death by Chocolate is among her favorites.
“Chocolate is exotic, and it tastes good,” Tully said. “If you can feast on it for a whole evening for $75, that’s not a bad thing.”