We all know that the best gifts are the ones you can eat. Even better if they’re chocolate. The experts at Make Something Edmonton have highlighted 3 local chocolatiers who are making a big impression on the international stage. You’ll want to fill your suitcase with delectable souvenirs from these shops that create unusual and drool-worthy flavour combinations. Best of all, these treats are made by Edmontonians with a passion you can taste!
While working grueling hours as a corporate chef in Toronto, Brett Roy was on a business trip to New York, and found his gaze drawn to the boutique chocolate shops.
"One day," he said.
Fate intervened, and he found himself and his growing family in Edmonton. This was his opportunity, so he spent his savings on research and training, sometimes as far away as France, to take the plunge and become a chocolatier.
"Chocolate forced me to slow down, because it dictates everything. You can't rush it." Chocolate is very susceptible to its environment, such as humidity and temperature. "My work pace completely changed. The chocolate runs everything. And we don't cut any corners. It's a three-day process to make a bonbon. There are ways you can speed it up, but we abide by the traditional techniques."
Traditional techniques means using the best ingredients, including fresh cream and real butter. There are no extra sugars or preservatives in these delights. "We don't make a 'shelf-stable' product," he says. Brett makes them. You eat them. Repeat.
Meet Edmonton's Cocoanista: Jacqueline Jacek - one part fashionista and one part chocolatier. Observing Edmonton's blossoming food scene, Jacqueline wanted to be a part of it.
"I love food. I love design. Chocolate was the perfect canvas for my art," she says. Starting with a 150-square-foot commercial kitchen in her own house, she began to 'design' in four dimensions: shape, flavour, colour and function. One year later she had moved to a new location, and a few years after that opened a second, retail-only location, in one of Edmonton's trendiest neighbourhoods, 104 Street.
The key to Jacek's success goes so much deeper than tasty chocolate creations. There is a core purpose that informs absolutely everything they do: joy.
"We are here to bring joy, and we do it through chocolate. The way we hire, the way we fire, the way we create our products: it's all about joy." Consistently delivering on that promise of joy, inside and out, means Jacek is growing steadily. Further expansions are in the works, and Jacqueline shows no signs of slowing down.
Who wouldn't want to work in a chocolate factory? For Rebecca Grant, of The Violet Chocolate Company, it's her own sweet reality. This young chocolatier has made a name for herself on the world chocolate stage.
"I sort of fell into chocolate," Rebecca says, fully aware that her accidental career is as delicious as it sounds. A Red Seal chef, Rebecca originally wanted to be a pastry chef, but due to a happenstance juggling of jobs right out of school, she found herself working at Kerstin's Chocolates, a local confectioner and chocolate maker. And it was there she started to sink her teeth into her newfound craft. When Kerstin closed up shop in 2012 to travel the world, Rebecca found herself buying up her former boss's equipment, and launching her own chocolate line.
Success came quickly. In just three years, she's won 11 Canadian chocolate awards, and three international titles, including 'Best flavoured milk chocolate' at the world finals for her Honey Rosemary chocolate bar. Indeed, Rebecca has a growing reputation for unusual savoury flavour combinations, using everything from Tandoori spice to candied olives, sundried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, even taco spice.
Shop in person: Available at Tix on the Square, Wish List Gifts and Barking Buffalo Cafe.
Or book an appointment to visit the studio (17515 10 Avenue in Edmonton).
Shop online: the-violet-chocolate-company.myshopify.com
Read more on Make Something Edmonton's blog.