The 7th annual Read It and Eat Culinary Conference was the sweetest yet, with a focus on local candy makers and chocolatiers who make some of the most indulgent treats in the Omaha area! More than 230 people crowded the fourth floor of the W. Dale Clark Main Library to get the story behind their favorite sweet makers, including Blue Dot Confections, Chocolaterie Stam, Lulubee Artisanal Chocolates, Snowshoe Candy Co. and Sweet Minou.
These local confectioners participated in a panel discussion about their businesses, what inspired them to pursue a career in candy production and even shared some of their personal favorite candies. Panelists brought samples of their signature treats and there was also a candy bar stocked with classic candies like Cracker Jacks, Smarties, M&Ms and more.
The conference also featured two demonstrations. The first was from Ali Yahnke Clark, of Snowshoe Candy Co. Clark gave a presentation on sugar -- the different types, what it can be used for and how different combinations of ingredients and cooking techniques result in various stages of sugary treats. Rebecca Ankenbrand, of Sweet Minou, also provided a bean to bar chocolate demonstration that showed how chocolate is made from its most simple form, cacao beans. The two demonstrations gave great insight into the science behind some of the most common candies on the market today.
Local author Kim Reiner discussed her latest book "Lost Restaurants of Omaha." Her book tells the story of how some of the city's most famous restaurants like The French Cafe, Piccolo Pete's and the Bohemian Cafe helped shape neighborhoods around Omaha.
Special thanks to the conference presenters, the Omaha Public Library Foundation and Friends of Omaha Public Library for their support, and to Lois Friedman, who gave the opening remarks for the conference!
View more photos from the 2017 Read It and Eat It Culinary Conference here.