One of last year’s winners of YYC Hot Chocolate Fest hopes to repeat their success this February and has already started work on some new recipes for the upcoming competition.

The award-winning superfoods store, Light Cellar, is a small, locally owned business in Bowness. It features a range of specialty foods such as medicinal mushrooms, herbs, and even algae.

Malcolm Saunders, owner of Light Cellar, credits its success to his enthusiastic staff and customer base.

“We actually have our own pre-contest [before] the contest. All of our staff are super into it and they help come up with ideas. In the end, it ends up not being just one person who created it.”

YYC Hot Chocolate Fest has run annually since 2013 and is one of Calgary’s hottest winter events.

Besides the fact that Calgarians get to taste a variety of creative treats, a dollar from each mug of hot chocolate sold goes towards Calgary Meals on Wheels.

Featuring a range of local cafes and restaurants, participants compete for awards like; best hot chocolate, best spirited hot chocolate, and the “Cup that runneth over.”

Joel Dryden, marketing and communications coordinator for Calgary Meals on Wheels, says the latter “is awarded to acknowledge a restaurant’s outstanding contribution to Calgary Meals on Wheels.”

The “cup that runneth over” was awarded to Light Cellar last year, after they sold 1,143 cups of their Black and Gold hot chocolate which had a turmeric base, coupled with charcoal chocolate. Charcoal has been one of the trendiest ingredients of the year as some claim it can act as a detoxifier.

Last year wasn’t the first time the Light Cellar crew took home a title. In 2016 their ‘Heart On Hot Chocolate,’ which had roses as one of it’s main ingredients, won YYC’s best hot chocolate.

Saunders says Light Cellar will be competing again in 2019, and they’re already coming up with ideas that will be both delicious and healthy.
Saunders NEWMalcolm Saunders, owner of the Light Cellar says that he has a great customer base that loves to get on board for the festival. Photo by Cassandra Woods.
What’s in the work for Light Cellar this year? You’ll have to wait until Feb. 1 for a taste, because all their plans are top secret.

This year the festival will run for the whole month. Dryden says Calgarians can keep their eyes peeled for a new app, which will let participants know where the nearest hot chocolate is. For more information, visit

Editor: Rayane Sabbagh |

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