If we were to ask you what the artisan chocolate capital of the United States was, what would you guess? New York? Los Angeles? Well, since this is called The Utah Foodie, you would be correct in guessing that Utah is the craft chocolate hotspot of the country. The folks at Saveur seem to think so, and we’re very much inclined to agree.
Mark DelVecchio and Dana Brewster have always been curious. With Mark's background as an educator and Dana's career as the owner of Millcreek Coffee Roasters, curiosity about the world around them and the food we consume has driven their careers and passions.
When Mark's career brought them to Ethiopia, Dana's research and exploring led to cocoa beans. These delicious cocoa beans inspired Dana, and her coffee roasting background gave her an idea. With big dreams in mind, Dana and Mark dove into artisan chocolate making. What started as a challenge to develop high quality chocolate led to a passionate business that delivers internationally award winning chocolate, from heirloom certified bean growers who are locally sourced and sustainably maintained.
Join us as we learn about Mark and Dana’s fascinating backstory, and travel with them on their chocolate adventure. If there's one thing we learned, it's that love, chocolate, and a sense of adventure lead to great things.
Scott was comfortable in his career as an air traffic controller and DeAnn was a sales manager at a local Utah business. But their kids were growing up and leaving the house, and behind the scenes Scott and DeAnn's homemade chocolate was becoming much more than a hit among friends and family, and was turning into an obsession.
So late in their careers and in mid-2013, DeAnn and Scott Querry made the leap into a new chapter of their lives and opened Solstice Chocolate out of a a small 800 square foot location in the Central Ninth district of Salt Lake City. In this small, single-room location they received small boxes of imported cocoa beans, arriving from distant countries known for their cocoa beans, like Madagascar and Bolivia.
Solstice Chocolate's "bean-to-bar" model has proven that carefully controlling the entire chocolate-making process pays off. Today, just two years later, Solstice Chocolate bars can be found in over 170 locations across the United States and Europe.
On today's episode of The Utah Foodie, we take you through Solstice Chocolate's founding story, talk about the bean-to-bar model and roasting process to make fine chocolate, and get to know their owners DeAnn Querry and Scott Querry.
You can find their chocolate online at Solstice Chocolate's website, or at the Blue Copper Coffee Room or Publik Coffee Roasters.
AJ Wentworth attended the world's largest nutrition school in New York City, after spending years as a health coach and working at a retreat center in rural Arizona where he taught his patients about raw food and holistic, healthy living. To put it simply, AJ doesn't have the background you'd expect of a chocolatier.
In NYC, AJ fell in love with the idea of healthy, raw chocolate -- made of real cacao beans and while staying healthy, remaining sweet, and well... like chocolate. So he started making his own version of chocolate in his apartment, and peddled them at school to make a few bucks and get feedback from his fellow classmates.
When he returned home to Salt Lake City, AJ Wentworth opened The Chocolate Conspiracy and today, just six years later, they have a large wholesale presence where they sell in over 10 states, a few countries, and out of their small chocolate shoppe in downtown Salt Lake City at 774 S 300 W.
AJ joins us today to talk about how he reconciles his passion for health, and his passion for sweets... and how he started The Chocolate Conspiracy back in 2009 as a young creative, with no background in business.
Join us on today's show of The Utah Foodie, with AJ Wentworth and our host Chase Murdock.
The Chocolate Conspiracy
774 S. 300 W. (Unit A)
Salt Lake City, UT 84101