Sunday, February 17, 2008

Le jour de la Saint Valentin

La Chatelaine’s production team buzzed with a flurry of action the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. To present our customers the freshest chocolates for the new heart-shaped boxes, we decided to take the opposite path of larger, mass-market chocolate companies. And that means we didn’t have abundant piles of Valentine chocolates displayed in our shop the day after Christmas.

With the help of two talented chefs who are dear friends, Bruno (a Frenchman whose boisterous voice mimics Mufasa in Lion King) and Kat (a sensible German-rooted gal who made the most beautiful croquembouche for our wedding), we were able to pull it off. Wlady and I are also blessed with hard-working retail associates who stood for long hours without getting to eat any of the chocolate. They listened to the same reply over and over: “I’d like to select my own chocolates, please”, when the line trailed out the door.

We aimed to keep romance our theme when choosing our ingredients and music. We treated our customers to chocolate paired with violet, pink champagne, rose flower water, and morello cherries macerated in kirsch. Furthermore, we coined our luxuriously rich chocolat chaud “love potion” and added ancho chili. Chet Baker’s hushed tone of My Funny Valentine often echoed throughout the store.

It was truly enjoyable to watch customers transform as they walked into our tiny store. The scent of chocolate is intoxicating especially when you add romance. Unfortunately, there are occasional customers that taint joy with complaints, but I suppose they complain their way through life and my chocolate has nothing to do with it.

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