Founder, Charles Chocolates
Summer always seems to fly by for me – maybe it’s a holdover from my student days when the beginning of August represented the last month of summer vacation. Or maybe it’s just that we have been very busy (with a few things that I can’t tell you about yet, but soon will) over the last few weeks.
I’ll lead off my monthly recap with two really exciting press items. 7X7 Magazine’s August issue is their Big Sweets issue. Inside is a list of the 50 San Francisco sweets that you should eat before you die. Not only is our new Salty-Sweet Cashew bar on the list, but it was called out as senior editor Sara Deseran’s “Editor’s Pick” from amongst the 50 amazing sweets on the list. We were also named Best Locally Made Chocolate in the East Bay Express annual reader’s poll! I love the fact that we were chosen, in the same month, by both food writers and the public. I can’t even begin to tell you how great these make me feel…
Looking forward, there are a couple of really exciting events coming up. The first happens tomorrow – and even though it is sold-out, is still available to anyone who would like to participate via live webcast (our first). I will be spending an hour in conversation with Jesse Jacobs, the owner of Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco. We will be talking about the similarities between tea and chocolate, the language used to discuss them, and pairing the two. I have created 6 special truffles, using some wonderful craft-made chocolates, for the event. It will be taking place at 4 PM PDT tomorrow and can be watched live on our website.
In a couple of weeks we will be participating, for the second time, as a vendor at Outside Lands. This multi-day concert in Golden Gate Park is one of our favorite events of the year. Not only will we be serving our made-to-order S’Mores, French Style Hot Chocolate (Hot or blended cold), Blue Bottle New Orleans Style Iced Coffee and our amazing Thai Tea (Hot or Iced), but we will be doing it within earshot of some awesome music from some great indie bands. If you love music and good food, you should check it out and stop by for a tasty treat!
I want to close this month’s missive with a story about a great food experience I just had. Those of you who know me, know that one of things I love about being part of the Bay Area food community is the opportunities that it provides to interact with people who love to create amazing food. A common characteristic of all of them is their love of feeding people – bringing joy, enlightenment and education through their creations.
This is not limited to the Bay Area, nor is it limited to the actual producers of the foods we eat, as exemplified byZingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Aside from being one of our loyal wholesale customers, I have been a fan of Zingerman’s since they opened in 1982 (I spent most fall Saturdays in Ann Arbor watching University of Michigan football games). In the world of specialty and artisan foods, Zingerman’s is known far and wide – they are so much more than just a deli. At the end of the day though, what makes Zingerman’s really great is their people.
From the beginning, Ari, Paul and Co. have understood the importance of finding great people. Many years ago, not long after I started my first chocolate company Attivo Confections (Zingerman’s was also a vendor), Ari shared his employment application with me. I was stunned to see a long multi-page application, with essay questions, for employment in a college-town deli. I soon came to realize that what at first seemed cumbersome was in fact brilliant. Through careful application screening they were/are able to find people who would not only be “good” employees, but people who would be more likely to understand who they wanted to be as a food emporium. 20+ years later, they have assembled an amazing team.
Back to my experience this past weekend. I often do tasting for our vendors but am rarely engaged at the same level I was at Zingerman’s. Folks were excited and interested on a way that is becoming more and more rare (and at 10 in the morning!). Equally impressive was having some of the participants stop me during the 2 hours after the tasting, when I was having lunch and stocking up on Zing bars for the trip home, to ask more questions about our chocolates (and chocolate in general).
I wish I had more experiences where I walked away saying “Wow!” For now, my thanks go out to Duff, Margot and Rick for another great day at Zingerrman’s.
Founder, Charles Chocolates