The Chocolateria, a cocoa lovers' dream on Roncesvalles, opened quietly without advertising in the middle of a construction nightmare. You might call it a bad business move. But, when a former litigator decides to quit his cushy Bay Street job to open his own candy business, you know he's done his homework. Owner Tim English chose the west-end spot for its artsy energy, foodie-focus and family-friendly vibe. Plus, Roncey construction is slated to be complete by December.
Choosing to review a chocolate store is torture at best. Could I really be entirely objective while under the spell of cocoa butter and caramel? Would my opinions be corrupted by my sweet tooth? I wondered if English worried about the same temptation. He explained that working with sugar all day kind of kills the appeal. I guess with most of the best things in life (including chocolate), moderation is best.
Since opening this summer, The Chocolateria has built its business on walk-in traffic, selling truffles, barks, brittles and chocolate-covered treats to Roncey passers-by. The shop's offerings continue to evolve based on customer requests. English wants the business to grow organically. In fact, one of his bestsellers - Chocolate-Covered Potato Chips - was inspired by a customer suggestion. "We can make pretty much anything out of chocolate," he adds. It's true. There are molded milk and dark guitars at the cash wrap.
The apparent breadwinner is the selection of hand-rolled truffles. Core flavours like Dark Chocolate and Butter Rum are complimented with rotating seasonal and specialty
varieties like Maple Bacon and Pumpkin. While all sweet treats in the shop, including the drool-worthy truffles, are made with premium and natural ingredients where possible, English is very conscious of keeping the prices accessible. Truffles are $1.40 apiece, and can be gift boxed.
I have to imagine that corporate law didn't quite satiate English's creative wanderlust. He took an interest course in Pastry Arts at George Brown, a move that changed his life. Tim dabbles in all areas of the business, and loves the variety of his new career path. In between tempering chocolate and rolling truffles and chatting up customers, he is renovating the store's basement to make room for homemade ice cream production. As well, the shop will soon be equipped to produce more baked goods, including custom cakes, with the addition of a professional oven.
With ambition to boot, English shares plans to hold tasting events and pairings with other local businesses. He's also currently offering chocolate-making classes in the rear of the space. A space that is lined with his own paintings. I begin to wonder if there's anything this man can't do.
What he can do is make pretty darn amazing chocolate. I mull over the choices. Sponge toffee? Chocolate-covered marshmallows? Spiderman lollipops? I eventually settle on Cusibani Sea Salt bark with almonds. Better than sex? Just maybe.