Long before the doors opened at 1 p.m., people lined up down the ramp of the Green Ladle and into the parking lot as light snow fell among many a sweet tooth.

“We got here about 20 of (1 p.m.),” said Anita Murphy of Lewiston, who held a spot in line just a few bodies deep before the door.

She was with Donna Spugnardi of Lewiston, who was ready for the Patriot’s game later, adding, “Chocolate and football, you can’t get better than that.”

Both Murphy and Spugnardi work for the Lewiston School Department and said the event is for a great cause and worth coming out for on a winter day.

Inside, guests were handed a program, a ballot for the People’s Choice Award and a ticket, allowing them at least one taste at each of the nine participating restaurants and food service providers, with a couple free spaces allowing a second taste of their choice.

“This is my third year,” said Ella Magee of Ella’s Chocolates. “Actually, last year I got a first place Judges Award, which was a complete shock.”

Magee was showcasing caramel peanut-butter balls and what she called a dream bar. Essentially, the dream bar is like a Twix with a better upbringing.

“My signature chocolate is the cherry,” Magee said. However, she didn’t rely heavily on them this year. “These are actually minis,” referring to the size of her treats. She said normal portions at Ella’s are much larger.

Rolly’s Diner broke out the baked goods this year, setting aside the always popular Sadie’s Crepes for a selection of cakes Sadie Blais perfected in her diner laboratory.

Assisted by her father and American Culinary Federation, Central Maine Chapter, Chef of the Year Ken Blais, Sadie served an ever-growing line of anxious chocoholics.

“We decided to do things different,” Blais said, “switch things up.”

“I made a ton of different cakes, different ones every week.” Blais said she tested her cakes on customers as well as staff at Rolly’s, sometimes to the half-hearted protests of her coworkers that she was making them fat.

Blais’ from-scratch recipes included a devil’s food peanut butter with chocolate ganache, a chocolate with chocolate-raspberry ganache and a caramel chocolate sea-salt ganache.

Ganache, a major player in Blais’ recipes, is a mixture of cream, chocolate and whatever liqueurs or extracts are desired.

Blais said her caramel was derived from an old French recipe that called for a slow simmering of a can of condensed milk in a water bath for about three hours. The result is a rich caramel.

The Rolly’s table, decorated with canisters of flour and sugar and adorned with a vintage mixer and lit candles, earned a first place win for display. Following Rolly’s were Cake and Candy Creations and Top It Frozen Yogurt.

The judges for the chocolate competition were Heather Keach of Heather’s Bakery in Poland, Dara Reimers of the Bread Shack and Lewiston Superintendent Bill Webster, who once owned Haven’s Candy.

Maine Gourmet Chocolates took top prize, followed by Bates College and Top It Frozen Yogurt.

The Candy Dandy, or People’s Choice Award, went to Maine Gourmet Chocolates, followed by Rolly’s Diner and Marley’s Chocolate Lab in Gray.

The mother-daughter team of Sheryl Griffin and Jessie Hoffman at Cake and Candy Creations were serving chocolate, caramel-filled cupcakes and chocolate mousse from their New Gloucester business.

It’s their fourth year at the event and their fifth year in business together although a start date for the pair seems to be a fuzzy issue, “It kind of just morphed into a business,” Griffin said. “People wanted cakes.” The rest grew into a cottage industry for the team.

Salted caramel was a theme that ran through most of the vendors in one form or another. “It is the big thing — everybody wants it.” Griffin said. 

As people clamored in line for more of Griffin’s sweets, she remarked about the size of the crowd, which made a continuous loop around the room, “A lot more than last year. It’s great to see everybody coming out.”

Corrie Bernatchez, owner of Top It Frozen Yogurt, stood over mostly empty plates of her offering: s’more waffles dipped in chocolate ganache with graham-cracker crumbs.

Bernatchez said she has had a great response, especially from the kids.

Although not a usual menu item at her shop, Bernatchez said her location at Main Street in Auburn, right next door to her mother’s shop, Maine Gourmet Chocolates, has made for a delicious pairing of yogurt and chocolate.

She said the family’s side-by-side locations include a pass-through door so the two can easily work together.

Abigail LeVasseur, a sixth-grader at Geiger Elementary School, said, “I really like the chocolate mousse (from Cake and Candy Creations) and the Shut the Front Door Brownies from Bates.”

LeVasseur’s mother, Sarah, was nearby, working the basket raffle tables. Sarah teaches at Lewiston Middle School and said Abigail was there getting a preview for next year.

Hosting the event as well as manning the savory side of the room, Green Ladle Chef Dan Caron kept his students busy at the buffet table and behind the scenes in the bustling kitchen.

“Things are going well,” Caron said with a smile, scanning the room while constantly assessing the kitchen.

“I was a little nervous about the game-day crowd,” he said, “I bet you we’ve done 300 guests already.”

Caron said he had 15 kids volunteer their Sunday for the fundraiser, adding that they were the first to arrive and will be the last to leave after cleanup.

In order to keep the crowd dining on the finest chocolates in the region, students of the Green Ladle culinary arts program churned out a constant stream of chili, Italian sausage, nachos, french fries, onion rings and two varieties of French bread pizza.

Brooke Stevenson, a senior in the program, watched over the line. Stevenson has been with the Green Ladle for two years.

“I got here at 11:45 a.m.,” she said, “Chef at 10:45 a.m. — he’s super busy in the kitchen.”

In one of the many success stories to come out of the Lewiston Regional Technical Center, Stevenson said she has recently been accepted into the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

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