If there is one chocolatier that represents Belgian Chocolate, it is definitely Leonidas. The company, Leonidas Conifeserie SA, was founded by Leonidas Kestekides, a Greek confectioner who moved to the United States in the late 1800s.
Kestekides traveled to France in 1900 to participate in the international food fair as an exhibitor. Ten years later, he represented Greece in the World Fair held in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, where he was awarded the bronze medal for his chocolate confectionery and gold medal for his patisserie. Kestekides was also part of the 1913 World Fair in Ghent, where he met and married his wife from Brussels.
Kestekides settled permanently in Belgium and opened tea rooms in Brussels, Ghent, and Blankenberge. He was then joined by some of his relatives in Ghent to help him in creating delectable pralines and began importing fine ingredients like almonds, lokum (a sugary confection also known as Turkish Delight), and fruits confit. Since then, his relatives continued to innovate chocolate confections with the introduction of the Manon (coffee butter cream dipped in white chocolate). They have incorporated the logo of an effigy of Leonidas, King of Sparta, as an homage to the company’s founder.
Today, Leonidas offers over 100 unique chocolate confections, which is sold in over 1,400 retail outlets around the world.