This article was originally published in Eat Local Magazine Pilot Issue | Winter 2018 | Subscribe Here
Colleen Heidecker crafts delicious chocolates in Edmonton, AB. We’ve asked her a few questions to get to know more about her business.
- How did you become a Chocolatier?
I’ve always loved chocolate! A friend of mine was teaching a “Learn to Make Chocolate” class and I decided to take it. After the class I went home and made all sorts of filled chocolate bars. I came back the next day with all those filled bars and my friend asked if I would work for her making chocolate bars at night after her store was closed. I loved playing around with flavours and ingredients and wanted to learn more so I enrolled at Ecole Chocolat in Vancouver. For my Master Chocolatier course, I went to a small chocolate shop on Bowen Island to learn from the team at Cocoa West. One of the highlights of my career so far has been learning from Atelier Melissa Coppel, one of the top Chocolatiers in the world, at her school in Las Vegas. Chocolate is temperamental and challenging to work with, but that’s what I love the most about it. There’s no other ingredient that can do and be as many things as chocolate can.
- What makes a good Chocolatier?
Being able to take incredible, high-quality ingredients and elevate them into something that people will fall in love with is the sign of a good Chocolatier. There are so many ways to make a mint chocolate, but if the first bite takes you right back to your grandma’s backyard garden, that in my opinion is the product of a good Chocolatier. When I’m working with chocolate, I think about what I want it to be and then try to bring together the art and science of chocolate in everything I create.
- As a small local business, what is one important goal you have?
I wanted to be able to support small cacao farmers. It’s a struggle for them, and although I am a very small company I knew if I could find a way to buy chocolate from small producers, I would be able to make an impact. Rebel Chocolates in Montreal works with small farmers and then sells to little companies like mine. I can purchase a few dozen kilos and know exactly where it comes from. The best part of all of this is that I have met some amazing people, including the source for my Ecuadorian chocolate – her family is in Ecuador but she lives here! We developed a friendship after we met at a local market and now not only do I get chocolate from her family’s farm, but she produces the freeze-dried products I use in my creations.
- What is your personal favourite combination of flavours?
Anything hazelnut! It’s my weakness! I’ve been to Italy numerous times, and each time I couldn’t resist buying the Gianduiotto – and now I can make my own! Second up would be orange. I love whole candied orange slices dipped in chocolate.
- What do you love about eating local?
The connections that I have made with other local producers is my favourite part of the local scene. We have such incredible talent here in the Edmonton area, and when I have a chance to include locally sourced ingredients in my chocolates – well, I think it makes them taste even better! I love learning the stories behind each ingredient and producer. It’s rewarding to know why they do what they do, and the care that they take to make their product.
- Where can we get our hands on your chocolates?
The best place to find my chocolates is in my online store ColleensChocolates.com or at a variety of markets throughout the city. Everything is on my website, or you can find me on Instagram @colleenschocolates. I also teach a lot of workshops, such as my Chocolate + Wine events, and sometimes I will do taste testing nights where I gather together people who love chocolate and have them help pick out the new collections.
Visit Colleen’s Chocolates online at ColleensChocolates.com