Shop Specializes in Mouthwatering Art

Photo: Chocolatier Blue's confections contain fair trade cacao beans, locally grown seasonal fruits and organic butter and cream.
Emma Lantos/Photo
Chocolatier Blue's confections contain fair trade cacao beans, locally grown seasonal fruits and organic butter and cream.

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Chocolatier Blue

Chris Blue, owner of Chocolatier Blue, discusses business and chocolate.



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Berkeley resident Amy Delormier stopped by Chocolatier Blue, and was immediately offered a chocolate. As she popped the confection into her mouth, she let out a satisfied sigh.

"Oh, that's fabulous," Delormier said. "I'm a chocolate lover, and I am really impressed."

Chris Blue, the owner of Chocolatier Blue on University Avenue in Downtown Berkeley, said his shop, which opened in August, already has many loyal customers.

The shop turned a profit during its first month of business, despite high ingredient costs. But Blue says that making money is not his primary goal.

"The problem with food in America is greed," he said. "I think at some point you've got to draw a line with your company, and say, you know what, enough is enough."

Blue, 29, said he aims to create a delicious product and to run a business that respects its ingredients, its origins and its consumers.

The shop's shelves are made from wood salvaged from the trash, and Blue uses biodegradable packaging designed by NASA to ship his online orders.

He also travels to the farms he buys products from to make sure they treat their animals in a humane manner.

Some chocolate flavors are available in a vegan formula, and all the ingredients are fresh, organic, and local when possible, he said.

Blue and his fiancee, Jessica Steeve, the shop's only employees, make and decorate about 2,000 chocolates every day. The shop takes some orders online, but the majority of its customers are local.

Steeve, who has a degree in art, designs all the chocolates.

"I generally just go with what makes sense to me. See, this just looks like a raspberry," she said, pointing to a small dome-shaped chocolate, emblazoned with a splash of dark pink speckles.

She uses paint made out of vegetables such as beets and carrots to glaze each chocolate.

The chocolate's fillings change seasonally and include flavors like lime, pumpkin, and apple cider.

Blue said he was raised cooking.

"At six we were raising and killing our own chickens," he said. "I grew up with a respect for food, and where food comes from."

He trained at the French Pastry School in Chicago and worked as the chocolatier for Charlie Trotter's, a world-renowned Chicago restaurant. But like many in the food business, he said he dreamed of coming West.

"Every chef in the U.S. has looked to Northern California and Oregon as the height of food," he said.

Blue recently gained access to a trust fund, which gave him the $45,000 he needed to open the shop.

He said he has no interest in expanding his shop.

"I'm very happy to keep this small," he said. "I like being able to just close the doors and say that we are closed for three or four days."

Tags: BERKELEY, CHOCOLATE, FOOD


Contact Anna Widdowson at [email protected]



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