On tiny Bowen Island just outside of Vancouver is a chocolatier whose products rival those in any chocolate-obsessed city such as Paris. Joanne Mogridge and Carlos Vela-Martinez specialize in organic chocolates, made using Old World traditions and New World flavors.
What motivated you to open a chocolate business?
Deciding to open my own chocolaterie was a "quality of life decision." I wanted the freedom to choose where to live and work and how to achieve my dreams. I have always loved dark chocolate and thought I could explore that interest further and share that with others through my business.
Did you have any formal training in chocolate making?
I am a professional photographer who made a career change in my mid-thirties. When I realized that one of my dreams was to have my own chocolate business, I decided I needed to get some industry experience and began working for a retail chocolate shop.
I knew then that I wanted to be able to make beautiful chocolates, and I began to search the culinary schools for a chocolate program. But in 1999 there were really no programs to speak of—I could see that the best way for me to learn would be to work for a Maitre Chocolatier.
So, with no chocolate experience or even formal culinary training, just a very committed and enthusiastic attitude, I approached a well-known Vancouver Chocolatier, told him what I wanted to do and I was hired. For just over two years I was trained in the Belgian stlye of chocolate making, and am grateful for the knowledge that I acquired.
Where do you get your inspiration for the different flavors and textures you include in your chocolates?
Ideas just come. I think that they are influenced by the world around me, and the food that we eat. Combinations begin to form in my mind when I am not even really thinking about them and then they surface in, quite often, very interesting ideas. We tend to use mostly local flavours and, of course, everything is organic.
If you had to describe your product line in a couple of sentences, what would that be?
We make gourmet chocolates in both the Belgian and French traditions. They are completely organic, something I believe in strongly. We also make certified organic hot chocolate mixes.
What is your personal favorite out of all the products you make and why?
This week I would have to say it is our "First Place Pie," a round truffle with a layer of milk chocolate ganache, made with apple and pear purees, and a layer of dark ganache all rolled in toasted organic cashews.
581C Artisan Lane
Bowen Island, BC
V0N 1G0 Canada
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