Barry Callebaut is the world's largest manufacturer of chocolate and cocoa. They are based in Zurich, Switzerland, and are highly regarded in the pastry and confectionery world. Their chocolate is of very high quality. It's really damn good. They've been in business for roughly 150 years for a reason.
Mayor Daley has lured Callebaut to Chicago with an $880,000 grant to help curb moving expenses from their corporate office in Canada. They will be taking up residence in the old Mongomery Ward building in the River North neighborhood. No manufacturing will occur at this location.
There is a very interesting article in this week's Reader about where this grant money was generated. It also poses an important question; why does the world's largest chocolate manufacturer need financial help to move, especially when it is coming from taxpayers' dollars? (On an unrelated side note, it would be awesome if someone would give me financial help to move. Just kidding.) The grant is particularly mind boggling when you consider that the owner of Callebaut is also the owner of Brach's, a once-hugely important Chicago candy company. In 2003 owner Klaus Jacobs closed Brach's final plant in Austin, TX, leaving thousands of people unemployed.
To offer such a large sum of money to a company that is so financially stable, especially after said company has brought on the final demise of one of Chicago's own...it just doesn't seem quite right.
At any rate, my professional side and my personal sweet tooth are welcoming to Callebaut. It's exciting to add them to the list of great culinary things happening in the city. The article mentioned that the Montgomery Ward location will include a Chocolate Academy. Sign me up.