Meet Charlie, one adorable munchkin growing up in the very beginning stages of his own chocolate factory…
He’s not really supposed to be our focus, but really, his adorable little face (not to mention his name) says it all, as he watches his mom fold and cool the… yum! mouthwatering, lick your lips and drool just a little, chocolate!
We stumbled upon Jon and Helen by accident… we almost missed them!
How did we not know that our little town now has its very own chocolatiers?
And of course they have helpers to clean up after them too. After all what is a chocolate factory without taste testers?
They welcomed us in with warm smiles and jokes and we right away felt at home in their spacious, brightly lit farmhouse, little bits and pieces of chocolate and its history everywhere – from cookbooks and tools, to the row of turmeric plants they want to experiment with.
We sat over steaming, made-from-scratch chai lattes, and chatted about the history of chocolate and all its wonder.
And while Helen cooled some chocolate and let us taste an experimental chai kind they’re trying out, Jon pulled out an ancient chocolate pot and told us all kinds of tidbits about the decadent cacao bean and how it was discovered.
Not a single boring second!
We sat spellbound, most of the time trying desperately not to drool, as Helen and Jon took us through their process, goofed around a bit with us,
and talked about their dreams in the future of growing their own cacao plants somewhere, and making chocolate straight from scratch with all kinds of natural ingredients to put in it.
We can’t say enough about this lovely family and what they’re doing, and are so thankful for the opportunity to sit in their kitchen with them and taste the delicious chocolate they make.
Here is our interview with them:
Tiff: Tell us what inspired you to become Chocolatiers, and why you love it so much?
Helen: We’d rather enjoy a high quality bar of craft chocolate than a fine wine or fancy cheese (and that’s saying a lot). There’s so much flavour variation from different types of cacao and different growing regions. It’s such an enjoyable experience to let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth and savour all those subtle differences. We studied chocolate and chocolate making while we were in Vancouver, and decided we wanted to start making our own.
Tiff: Tell us about your vision for Lucky Pheasant Chocolate and what kinds of things you have in the works now and in the future.
Helen: Right now we’re just getting started and working on trying out new flavours, but our ultimate plans are to open a bean to bar chocolate factory here in Grand Forks.
Tiff: Give us a glimpse into the history of chocolate and the cacao bean and how chocolate has come to be what we know today.
Helen: It’s a fascinating history – we could go on about it for ages! I mean, who was that first person to open up a cacao pod, remove the bitter beans from the sweet white pulp inside, and think ‘I bet I could roast and grind these into something delicious!’ mesoamerican people were the first to discover this way of processing the beans. Cacao was so valuable, it was even used as currency by the Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs. The Spaniards brought it back to Europe where it was consumed as something similar to hot chocolate, mostly by royalty. In 1847, Joseph Fry first developed the process known as tempering, which is basically how we got to the chocolate bars we know today.
Tiff: We’d love to know more about your family, and what a day in the life looks like?
Helen: Oh my goodness, mostly total chaos! We’ve got two very energetic little ones. Betty is almost five, and Charlie is 3 and a half, so they keep us very busy. It seems like almost every day is different. We started a small farm when we moved here in 2017, so we spend almost all of our summer days outside on the farm, or floating down the Kettle River. Winter is when we get to focus on our chocolate plans. Next year, we’ll put the farming on the back burner so we can dedicate more time to expanding.
Tiff: Why did you decide to live and set up your business here in GF?
Helen: There are so many things! We love the sense of community. It really feels like people here are looking out for each other. It’s also so unbelievably beautiful here.
Tiff: If someone wants to purchase some of your delicious bars of chocolate, where and how can they do that?
Helen: Right now they’re available at the Kettle Valley Food Co-op, and we’ll be hitting the farmer’s market circuit next year. We’re also on Facebook (The Lucky Pheasant), so we can be contacted that way too.
There you have it folks! We bid you all a merry Christmas, Grand Forks! If you are craving chocolate now, like we are, contact Jon and Helen! It truly is some of the best chocolate we’ve had – and we’ve had a lot!
To all the entrepreneurs we’ve met in town, thank you so much for allowing us to have a peek at your process! We know there are more of you out there as well that we couldn’t get to! Good job all of you for making our community as friendly and full of life as it is!