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Chocolate makers keep it in the family

STIJN Verleye is spraying on a bird-shaped chocolate while his father Jan is focusing on putting white chocolate balls around a chocolate Haibao, the World Expo's mascot.

The father and son are displaying their skills to the public at the chocolate bar at the Belgium-EU Pavilion. The bar is one of the pavilion's highlights.

The pavilion has Belgian chocolate makers come over in teams of two. Each team demonstrates their skills for seven days.

Behind Stijn, 14, and Jan are using three melting machines filed with liquid chocolate - dark, milk and white. In front of them are dozens of visitors who try their best to take photos of the best moment in the chocolate-making process.

"This is my first time in China, and hopefully not the last," Jan told Shanghai Daily.

"The Chinese visitors are so kind and nice. They all have this very sweet look and say? 'xie xie,' to us when we hand out chocolates to them."

The chocolates are given out twice daily, at 3pm and 6pm. It's also one of Jan and Stijn's favorite times of the day as 400 free chocolates are given out at each session and "they are far from enough."

Jan has had his own chocolate factory back in Belgium for almost 18 years and he is proud of not using colors in the chocolate. He only uses the original colors of dark, milk and white chocolates to realize his imagination.

Stijn became interested in chocolate making when he was 10 years old and started hanging around the factory to learn from his father.

"Now he is very good at this. Most of the times, I just let him do what he wants because he can definitely handle it," Jan said proudly as he watched Stijn link a bird shape to a cube.

At the Expo, Jan has been making Haibaos in different settings. He plans to make more of the mascots because "the Chinese visitors seem to really enjoy this."

Stijin's favorite has been chocolate Smurfs, cartoon characters, and he has already made a Smurf's house with help from his father. Coincidently, the Smurf exhibit is only steps away from the chocolate bar.

The two will be making chocolates in the pavilion from 1pm to 6pm until Wednesday. They make about 30 kilograms of chocolate each day.


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