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issue no.8 spring 2016 29 city of Melbourne itself. The sorts of things customers learn on the tour, apart from meeting other interesting “walkers” include: the types of chocolate; how chocolate is grown, harvested and processed; where chocolate is best grown, including the location of the only chocolate plantation in Australia; the history of chocolate making in Australia; the European roots of chocolate makers here, and the interesting relationship between some of them (who talk who chocolate making in return for being taught English?); the best spots for chocolate in the Melbourne CBD; how to choose and eat chocolate and much more.

A surprising aspect of the tour is exclusive access and treatment at the key chocolate house. Customers on the tours find themselves in private rooms, secret hidden cellars beneath famous restaurants and with a personal audience with chocolate makers. The real bonus on the tours is the equality of the guides and the information they impart, not just about chocolate, but Melbourne and its people too. Most fascinating is the international Italian (Milan) history and connection of the CBD’s most beautiful and famous arcade – The Block Arcade running between Collins and Elizabeth Streets,

the ladies who used to “walk the block” outside in their “Sunday best” in the early 1800s, and the “always has a queue” tea rooms at the front. The stories are where the actors come in. Gilchrist hires almost exclusively actors as guides. “Actors are very good at learning, recalling and sticking to a script, as well as telling a story with passion in an interesting way,” says Gilchrist. Perhaps they also appreciate the work and the income before they move to Bafta, Hollywood or other fame. Now there’s an idea, maybe John Cleese could add chocolate tours of Melbourne to “Meetings, Bloody Meetings” and “Can You Spare a Moment?”

Profile for Spark Magazine

Spark Magazine Spring 2016  

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