Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Cure for What you Crave

So the Cocoa Dolce gang put on a great show at the Chamber of Commerce mixer. Our table was beautiful and very well received. We were able to show off our award-winning chocolates and use the event to launch our new tongue-in-cheek 31 Day Cure for What you Crave. It's our way to offer our customers a healthy chocolate alternative. The AMA Journal has substantiated that 6.3 grams of bittersweet chocolate a day can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure when taken before bedtime.

It's difficult as a chocolatier to be innovative and take advantage of trends without making health claims or being blatant. I really try to be thoughtful about not only what we produce but also how we package and communicate an item. I've been trying to develop an product touting the health benefits of chocolate since we opened, but couldn't figure out the right positioning. That's one of the real challenges of successfully relating products in an intelligent but not too serious way.

I think that's one of the qualities that make us distinctive in the industry...the ability to create delicious chocolates with a sense of humor. So when we decided to move forward with the 31 days of chocolate, our designer Paul Fountain, took my initial instructions and ran with a design that was a very fun 'medicinal' look including a doctor's prescription and packaging that looked like a pill bottle. I really liked the idea, but I found over time of letting the idea ferment, it just didn't settle

So I began thinking about how else we could market the health benefits of chocolate and I came across this photo:
About the same time, Paul came back with another design concept for our new product. Here is the label he brought in...

Perfect! It's perfection when an idea gets its manifestation! And I love the edgy, fun approach. So now we just have to sell them!!

Until next time...stay warm and dry! I'll tell you about our most recent brush with Hollywood in my next posting.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dancing with the Stars

A week or so ago, Cocoa Dolce was named a finalist in the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce 2009 Small Business of the Year awards. This honor is awarded to small businesses in the metro area that have accomplished success in a variety of business measures including profit & growth, community involvement and employee relations. We were thrilled to be one of 72 businesses nominated and surprised to be announced as a finalist!

We were invited to display our business at an expo where the finalists were announced. We really like to go to these events, allows the over achievers in us to put on a show. So we brought the flowers, the packaging and the chocolate. We have found that regardless of the event, if we bring chocolate we are the most popular company there!

Friday, March 6, 2009

South Beach Buddies

Welcome to my blog! As a blogging virgin, I'm going to attempt to share some stories and experiences that shape my world. I'm following my passion (finally), and it's taking me on some crazy adventures! So welcome and here's a little story about my recent trip to South Beach.

My best friend, Karen, is a traveler. And I get invited to see some incredible places. And sometimes we go to Florida. Not that I have anything against Florida, I really like it, but this trip was designed for rest and relaxation. Have just had our butts handed to us over Valentine's Day, she thought it would be great to hang out for a few days, soak up some Florida sun and eat some great meals. I was in!

The night before we left, Karen discovered that the South Beach Food and Wine Festival ( would be taking place while we were there. It is considered by many in the food and wine world to be the biggest and most well-attended event in the country. Lasting four day, celebrity chefs, vintners and foodies like me wallow in amazing food and incredible drinks on the beaches of Miami. Usually a total sell-out, we were surprised to find tickets available for the Saturday night BubbleQ event. Sponsored by Perrier Jouet champagne, it featured celebrity chefs showing off their upscale barbecue styles.

Sponsored also by The Food Network and Food & Wine Magazine, it appeared to be the event of the weekend. So off we went. My first mistake was wearing was on the beach. There was sand on that beach and I spent most of the night trying to empty the huge amount of sand out of my shoes. Two words: flip flops! We arrived and were give our Reidel wine glass and a sparkly wrist band. When the gates opened, we were treated to rare roast lamb, lobster tacos, carne asada to make you cry, ribs, veal, crab, and celebrities!

I'll admit to being a chef junkie. I deeply respect a top chef's skills and passion. They are my rock stars, so it was heaven. Not only were many of The Food Network personalities there, so were the Food & Wine staff and many of the Top Chef contestants from Bravo's television show. So after about 5 glasses of delicious champagne, I decided to start using my camera phone to grab a few celebrity pictures.

Rocco DiSpirito...such a nice guy...totally tolerant of my goofy excitement!

Guy Fieri...Food Network star. Probably treated like the biggest rock star there based on the number of people crushing around him.

Rick Bayless...chef/owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo restaurants in Chicago. My first real chef crush.
Ilan Hall, winner of the second season of Top favorite TV show. One of my 'candid' shots.

Hung Huynh, season 3 Top Chef winner! Best plate of the evening...rare grilled lamb. Super nice guy, we had to take 3 pictures to get this one.

You know when you want to take a picture of someone, but they aren't allowing photos. Our solution? Have Karen stand next to them and pretend to be shooting her...that's how we captured this rare sighting...
Jared from Subway!!!!!!!! He was appearing somewhere else during the weekend and was hanging out with the rest of the celebs. Karen and I agreed it was the best $400 bucks we had spent and we laughed the rest of the weekend about it. As we were leaving that night, we got a chance to have a really nice visit with Tom Collichio...another amazing chef and head judge for Top Chef. Made my night! So here is my final photo...two really happy women. Until next time, enjoy!