A husband and wife team with a love for travel and good food and drink, we put our passion into each and every batch of our chocolates, handcrafted in a 1910 brick mill building in Brattleboro, Vermont. We moved here from San Francisco nearly twenty years ago after setting off on a serendipitous cross-country adventure to put down roots in the Connecticut River valley, inspired by the Vermont cheeses and foods we discovered while living on the West Coast.
Our town and the surrounding valley are home to a myriad of farms, orchards, forests and meadows that provide a plethora of freshly-farmed and foraged foods. This bounty of pure and delicious flavors are the basis for Vermont’s outstanding artisanal cheese, bread, beer, wine, maple and restaurant culture. It is these resources that we tap into as Vermont chocolatiers.
Our journey to become artisan chocolate makers has taken many twists and turns, but it feels like everything we’ve done has culminated in what we do and love now. We draw upon our travels and the exciting innovations in California cuisine that were happening while we lived there, as well as our backgrounds in the arts, biology and chemistry, restaurants and cafés to inform our craft.
John spent several years as head coffee roaster and manager at our local roasting shop when we first touched base in Brattleboro. His experience sourcing beans, cupping with leaders in the field like George Howell, and visiting coffee origins has provided a great background to working with chocolate. John’s years of leading small businesses has fueled our growth from a home-based business to our official launch in 2014 and continued growth today.
Dar comes from a food-centric family with a long history of creating chocolates and other confections. Growing up in the fertile St. Lawrence Valley where farms and foraged ingredients abound, Dar and her siblings were encouraged by their mother to act on their creative culinary impulses. The family table often included milk and cream from local dairy farmers, fruits and vegetables from area farms and orchards, wild blueberries, raspberries and blackberries picked trailside in the nearby northern Adirondacks, fresh caught trout from local lakes and streams, and venison, rabbit and pheasant that her father hunted and brought home (verily leading her to become a vegetarian for many years, but that’s another story).
Dar’s love of the outdoors led her to study biology and art as an undergraduate, doing fieldwork with a botany professor and drawing scale illustrations of the plants they studied for publication. The flavors of the spruce tips, wild mint, clover flower and other foraged treats she would taste growing up resonate in Dar’s recipes today as Vermont chocolatiers.
Working front and back of house in restaurants and cafés in New York State, San Francisco, the Czech Republic and Vermont, her experimentation with chocolate started in earnest while at Peter Havens Restaurant in Brattleboro. Inspired by the chef’s approach to classic French and European dishes with local ingredients, Dar worked on honing her truffle-making skills by tempering chocolate at home on a marble slab and refining her ganache recipes using ingredients from local farm stands and farmers markets.
Chocolate combines the things Dar and John love the most: art, food, science and place. We are absolutely thrilled to be doing what we do, and to be doing it here in southern Vermont.