Photo Credit: Lilia Alexander

What do an apple pie, a mermaid tail, holy donuts and Earl Gray have in common? These are just some of the enticing  flavours on offer for a limited time when the “Sweet As” Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Challenge™ gets underway from July 1.

After a turbulent few months, with many cafes having to shut shop during level 3 and 4, the country’s only hot chocolate challenge is a welcome relief for hospitality operators in Hutt Valley’s CBD. 

The challenge, into its sixth year, will see 15 hospitality operators including cafes, restaurants, a bar and a bakery in Lower Hutt create their own signature hot chocolate drinks for people to enjoy over 19 days. Customers will be the given the chance to vote for their favourite drink on the new Sweet As Hutt’s Hot Chocolate website with the winner declared at the end of the challenge which runs until July 19.

The challenge, founded by the Hutt City Council as a way to inspire local cafes to be creative as well as draw people out to the CBD during winter, couldn’t have come at better time.

Hutt City Council CBD Development Manager Cyndi Christensen says “We know it’s been an incredibly difficult and stressful few months for hospitality operators with the impact of COVID-19. We are thrilled the challenge, which draws in customers far and wide, is able to go ahead and to have 15 participating operators come to the party in such a short timeframe, is testament to the reputation the challenge has built up over the years.

Last year’s winner Colab Cafe with The Cookie Cup sold more than 3782 hot chocolates during the challenge, averaging 150 hot chocolates a day so if that isn’t proof the challenge is a success, I don’t know what is!”

“The challenge has become such a popular annual fixture, we’ve seen a major increase in the members of the public reaching out well in advance of the competition to see what drinks are on offer for 2020.  More than ever people are keen to shop and support local, so we are expecting cafes to be run off their feet!” said Christensen.

Creativity and innovation is once again shown through with this year’s entries. Customers can be treated to a Granny’s Apple Pie – a custard white hot chocolate from The Crooked Elm; a bubblegum surprise at Hot Gossip Cafe, Belgium bliss with a holy donut from Tutaki Cafe to earl grey infusion from Kothitsuji Cafe, Velvety white rose hot chocolate from Bellbird Eatery – ensuring there is something to suit all taste buds.

Back again by popular demand is Buzz cafe’s Death by Hot Chocolate Party on 11 July and Atrium will also be running their own chocolate event on July 17. Cuffs Cafe will extend their operating hours and open two Saturday’s for their ‘Sweet As Saturdays’.

For the first time, the challenge has partnered with Southend Business Group who will sponsor and will be running a ‘make your own hot chocolate’ pop up container in collaboration with the team at Quarterpast, who will be supplying delicious flavour options for all hot chocolate creations in exchange for a koha or non-perishable food item – with all proceeds to go to local charity Lower Hutt Foodbank.

 “The idea is to draw in the evening crowds to the Southend, and is a great way to promote the challenge by getting people excited about hot chocolate! If we can entice people after work or out on an evening walk to warm their bellies with their own hot chocolate creations and give back to such a well deserving local charity, all the while promoting the Challengers’ unique hot chocolates, it is a good thing.” said Michael Gray from Southend Business Group.

For the full list of the 2020 Hot Chocolate Challenge participants visit https://www.facebook.com/sweetaschallenge/

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