by Norman Love

Chocolate has been my passion for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I became a professional pastry chef that I discovered it’s a passion I share with just about every other person on earth.

Wherever I go, no matter the continent, when it comes to dessert, virtually everyone wants something chocolate over something that isn’t. And so I’ve been fortunate to be able to meld my passion with my profession. There’s nothing as satisfying as being able to let my imagination and creativity loose in a medium that affords so much pleasure to so many.

In holding cooking classes at Norman Love Confections, I’ve found that home bakers derive a similar joy in creating luscious truffles, cookies and other goodies made from the freshest ingredients available from around the world.

As corporate executive pastry chef for The Ritz-Carlton Company for more than a decade, I had the opportunity to travel around the world, discovering and tasting firsthand just how fabulous fresh native ingredients can be. My staff and I revel in bringing those flavors to Southwest Floridians and an international array of visitors who discover our artisanal chocolates on their travels here.

That kind of exploration and the pleasures it brings remain the chief delights of traveling and exposing yourself to new people and places.

This issue is filled with countless opportunities to explore and discover wondrous food and fine living. Readers may select from an impressive lineup of cooking classes around the state. They can savor some of Chicago’s best restaurants as well as the culinary prowess demonstrated in local establishments Crave and Crust. They can delve into a smorgasbord of dazzling destinations, such as Italy’s romantic Lake Como region, the lush resorts of the Turks & Caicos, grown-up fun in Orlando, picturesque St. Michael’s, Maryland, and surfing in St. Lucie County.

So settle in for an international multi-course feast. In the pages that follow, there’s something sure to appeal to everyone.