Last Thursday, we officially launched jcoco in New York City with the help of chef Amanda Freitag of Chopped and Margaret Purvis CEO of the New York Food Bank. Amanda prepared a 5 star, 5 course meal using ingredients from our jcoco bars including toasted quinoa lamb meatballs, sesame agave yogurt with harissa, and cayenne & Veracruz orange glazed pork belly with wilted kale. Members of the press and friends sampled dishes paired with wines from the Northwest and experienced first-hand, the inspiration behind “couture chocolate”. Jean spoke about the core pillars of the brand:
• Five-star flavors
• Portioned for sharing
• Giving Back to our community
Margaret issued a stirring plea to end hunger where we live and demonstrated her enthusiastic support for jcoco. All in all it was a great success and we look forward to planning our next event (possibly in SF) in the new year. Following the event, a gift to the FBNY of more than 1,000 fresh healthy servings was made a result of a #jcocogives campaign which kicked off the same evening.
Posting from Jean: December 13
As a child of the 70’s, I grew up watching, laughing and often quoting Saturday Night Live skits. Gilda Radner was one of the original dream team of comedians who would change the landscape of comedy in the 70s and 80s. When she died of ovarian cancer in 1989, I felt robbed of too many years of laughter.
Gilda told friends that having cancer made her part of an exclusive club that she’d rather not belong to. She said the hardest part was having no community to turn to who understood what she was going through. She felt all alone.
Gild’s Club, founded in 1995 by her husband Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka himself in the class version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is all about providing this sense of belonging and understanding to anyone with or affected by cancer. This includes kids whose parents have the disease and are scared to death about losing that parent, but no one around them wants to talk about it. Gilda’s Club offers support groups, lectures, summer camps, socials, references, connections and a place to go when you need your spirits lifted. The best part of all is that they do all of this for free. There are no boundaries to getting the help and support you need during this battle for life. After all, cancer itself does not discriminate.
I love how pure Gilda’s mission is. I love how selfless the director and staff are about delivering the mission. When I watch them in action, I am struck by how very comfortable they make their clients feel. Everyone who walks through those doors is a friend and leaves with a sense of hope and belonging.
This Saturday, Seattle Chocolates is going to donate 25% of all sales in our retail and on line stores, as a salute to Anna, Marlene, the Gilda’s Club staff and in memory of the late great Gilda Radner. Please help us support this great organization as you shop for your chocolates this holiday season.
Posting from HQ: December 3
One of the greatest parts about being a small business is that we can be ourselves and live out what we believe in every day. No red tape or complicated corporate structure to weigh us down.
And around here we believe life is in the details. So we spend a lot of time fussing over every little thing, like bringing you only the purest all natural ingredients, even if it means making a little less profit. Like wrapping every chocolate in gift-worthy style.
And like Jean handwriting cards on behalf of our online customers so that their chocolate gifts arrive with a personal touch. Necessary? No. A good use of time for the CEO? Hard to say.
The way we roll? Absolutely.
Since we are on the subject…this was a great little shout out for small businesses we found a few weeks ago on one of our favorite style blogs coco & kelley!
Posting from HQ: October 17
jcoco, Seattle Chocolates’ newest brand, was thrilled to help sponsor Hopelink’s Reaching Out Luncheon on Monday. We heard from Author Jeanette Walls, and Connie Chapin, a former Hopelink client. Both women did a fabulous job articulating their personal stories of how poverty has shaped their lives. Connie explained, ‘going hungry is not the hard part, it’s the shame. That’s what you remember’. Many millions of readers already know Jeanette’s story from The Glass Castle, which was written because of Jeanette’s decision to face, rather than hide, her shame of growing up in poverty.
Although their circumstances were different, both of these women ultimately told an infectious story of hope and optimism. Both have successfully found a way to self-sufficiency and both passionately support Hopelink for its mission of lifting people and families out of crisis.
jcoco is thrilled to be building partnerships with organizations like Hopelink across the country. At a time when 1 in 5 people in America are living in poverty, we believe it is critical to use what we do to make a difference. One fresh, healthy serving at a time.
Posting from HQ: September 29
The other night we attended Hopelink’s inspiration party for their Reaching Out Luncheon on October 15th. It was an amazing gathering of dedicated people. And such fun to share stories while nibbling on fabulous food by Lisa Dupar and watching the looks of delight as guests helped themselves to their first taste of jcoco!
But the best part of the night was meeting Connie. She started speaking to the group by saying she considers chocolate an important food group. So, I guess we were bound to hit it off! Connie went on to explain that she is one of Hopelink’s Pacesetter donors. She owns her own business teaching children to swim and has successfully raised four kids all by herself.
But not so long ago she was a Hopelink client, going through a tough divorce and stuck in circumstances beyond her control that meant a slow decline into poverty. She talked about what it felt like as things around her fell apart.
Connie is clearly a fighter and she credits Hopelink with providing her the lever she needed to begin lifting herself up into self-sufficiency. Although she is humble and didn’t tell me this herself, I later learned that her incredible tenacity and drive even led her to winning an Extreme Home Makeover a few years ago! Today her business teaching children to swim in her own backyard pool has a waiting list of students and she is proud to be putting her two oldest through college.
We were inspired by Connie. Click here if you are interested in joining us on Oct 15th. Author Jeanette Walls will be there to tell her own incredible story, and of course you will get the chance to taste some exquisite chocolate!
Posting from HQ: August 14
We know how lucky we are to spend our days dreaming about and creating fabulous chocolate. But the best part is sharing it with you. In fact, connecting with our customers is what inspires us. That is why we make it a priority to develop and donate products for charity and spend time giving back.
This summer we decided to devote some attention to the hunger crisis that is happening right in our own backyard. The tough economy has swelled the ranks of American households confronting hunger and food insecurity by 30%. In King County 306,469 residents are food insecure*. This means 1 in 6 of the county’s population are unsure of where their next meal will come from.
Seattle Chocolates is proud to support Hopelink and Northwest Harvest in their efforts to ensure school age students who are eligible for the free or reduced price lunch program during the school year do not go hungry during the summer months. And we hope you stay tuned to learn more about the fabulous new products coming this fall that will make it possible for us to continue providing healthy food to people who need it most.
We can’t wait to make our giving dreams a reality!
*According to study conducted by Food Lifeline and Feeding America.
Posting from HQ: June 1
We love gifts. That is why each truffle that leaves our factory is made with pure ingredients and dressed up ready to give! But Fathers Day gifts are hard. Grilling tools feel equivalent to giving Mom an appliance (and we know that’s a bad idea). And who really needs more golf club covers or a beer making kit?
We think a more original way to honor Dad would be to give him the gift of good health. Happily … dark chocolate qualifies!
A lot has been written about the health benefits of chocolate. Dr Andrew Weil has published a useful anti-inflammatory food pyramid with chocolate sitting at the very top. A recent article from health.msn.com suggests dark chocolate may lower the risk of heart disease. And Beth Reardon, director of Duke University Integrative Medicine, talks about chocolate’s ‘health halo’ for it’s association with everything from improved vision to easing a chronic cough.
Yippee, we say! Pair it with a nice bottle of (antioxidant rich) red wine. Remind your Dad that when it comes to premium quality, a little satisfies. And you’ve got yourself a meaningful fathers day gift!
Posting from HQ: May 11
…and farewell Chicago, after a busy couple of days at the Sweets and Snacks Expo. Like us, Marilyn left town this week, having been installed last July. So we dashed out to snap her picture after setting up our booth at the beginning of the week. City was abuzz about seeing the super-sized starlet go. And none too sad we noticed!
Trip highlights: Finding Eno Chicago Wine Bar still open after our late arrival on Monday – a great wine, cheese and chocolate taste experience. And somehow a fitting start to our week of conversation about crafting unforgettable chocolate combinations. Jean and Niel attended the NCA’s Chocolate Council Meetings. Jean led tours of culinary students through the show and Niel spoke about finding the delicate balance between different ingredients and types of chocolate. (That deserves its own post – so stay tuned for more on that soon!) Niel was also interviewed live by WGN radio about translating his engineering background into chocolate making. A fact that is certainly one of the best kept secrets of our success!
Whew, what a great week.
Posting from HQ: May 4
The next time you entertain, why not make it a truffle tasting party? Put down your kitchen torch, forget that Cuisinart and dial up a dessert that is sure to create conversation and be a treat for every palette. All you need to do is decide your style.
A tasting paired with coffee, tea or wine?
If this is your style, we recommend brewing a dark french roast or espresso blend paired with any of our truffles including nuts, salt or toffee. We think colorful glassy baby drinkers make it an occassion!
If your guests prefer wine after dinner, decant a full-bodied red to sip with our dark chocolate truffles. A sweet dessert wine pairs well with our extreme dark or blackberry truffles. It’s worth checking out Sunset Magazine’s wine editor Sara Schneider’s occasional musings about wine and chocolate pairings.
If your plans call for a more relaxed event, or you want to serve up a festive Mom’s Day surprise, a selection of truffles makes a pretty centerpiece. And it’s fun watching everyone nibble their way to their favorites!
For more ideas, head over to Curtsy Bella tomorrow. Those creative ladies are throwing their own truffle party this Saturday from 10-8:30!
Posting from the R&D Kitchen: February 22
Every once in a while, someone will say there is no such thing as bad chocolate. And hearing that makes us want to take those people into our kitchen and offer them some truly amazing chocolate. Watch them really taste it. Our Master Chocolatier calls it ‘romancing the chocolate’; the way we choose each one of our ingredients very carefully, never compromising on the finest quality so that what we end up with makes you want to close your eyes for just a moment.
Open your eyes.
That moment is what we work toward at Seattle Chocolates. And we get there by tasting countless batches and combinations before we settle on a single recipe. (Well shoot, someone’s gotta do it!) So that whatever all natural delights we might combine with our chocolate – say for the holidays, or to appeal to nut lovers or caramel lovers or those who like it a little fruity – it begins and ends with the chocolate. And a taste that might just stop you in your tracks.