It started with Luke Skywalker and a question
About 10 years ago, I held a chocolate tasting in my home for a small group of friends. I proudly procured chocolate from all over the world from online sources, and we sampled chocolates from milk to dark, all the way up to a bar that was 99% cacao—in other words, pretty bitter.
Afterwards, I handed out a questionnaire to my unsuspecting participants, asking them to rate and describe the flavors they experienced. To keep things light, one of my questions was: “Luke Skywalker or Han Solo?” (Luke had my heart in 1977.)
Even then, I knew I wanted to make even the darkest fine chocolate approachable and friendly, and to share it among friends.
Life continued and my passion for chocolate grew. For many years I suppressed my desire to do anything about it.
In 2016, my curiosity finally got the better of me. I went to France to train with some of the world’s best at Valrhona. I became a certified maître chocolatier. There, the allure and flavors of fine chocolate romanced me to pieces. That’s how Velveteen Chocolate was born.
Immediately upon my return home, I participated in the inaugural Co.Starters entrepreneur program at Findlay Kitchen, and began selling my handmade chocolates to enthusiastic people who said, “More, please.”
I find joy in making chocolate by hand in small batches—it’s a flow activity for me, and one that allows me to express my creativity through flavor combinations and presentation. I use traceable chocolate and, whenever possible, local and organic ingredients—allowing you to enjoy chocolate aligned with your values. In 2017, I traveled to origin in Costa Rica, harvested cacao in loamy organic cacao fields, and began to understand the complex and gorgeous system that provides us with chocolate.
My mission is to create experiences that deepen your curiosity. I believe strongly that chocolate heals the soul, and when purchased with awareness to the process and the people who made it, it also strengthens people and communities. Through small-scale workshops and tasting events, we'll discover new flavors and textures and talk about where and how the chocolate is made. This is especially important as much cacao around the world is produced with child labor, at sub-poverty-level wages and in unsustainable ways. Part of our experience will be enjoying only chocolate whose makers knowingly and purposely choose to improve the supply chain, rather than extract from it.
I’m an executive at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, an aspiring food stylist and food photographer, a seeker, and a bit of a wanderer. My chocolate inspiration seeking has taken me to San Francisco, Seattle, Costa Rica and back to Paris. In 2018, I am heading to origin in Ecuador.
Velveteen describes not only the smooth texture of fine chocolate but the feeling you get when tasting it, like a cozy hug. For me, the word also evokes memories of childhood, and stories of love, realness and authenticity that have stayed with me, influencing my life and chocolate work.