Shop Talk: Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolate

Category: Chocolate

Owner: Christopher Elbow

In business since: 2003

1819 McGee Street, Kansas City, MO

816-842-1300

www.christopherelbowchocolates.com

Chocolate philosophy:

The quality of the ingredients must be the best and small batch production is paramount in maintaining control and freshness of the final product.

Inspiration:

I first got introduced to chocolate making in 1999 while working in Las Vegas. The pastry chef at the restaurant that I worked at was very skilled with chocolate and sugar work. That was the first time I saw colors utilized in chocolate making and was hooked ever since. It took a while to get to the point where I felt comfortable going out on my own.

Training:

I don’t have any formal training.

Description of business:

Our new flagship boutique in Kansas City has a very modern and contemporary look. We have counters of our individual chocolates and then other confections such as chocolatecovered nuts, toffee, turtles and our new line of 14 varieties of chocolate bars. We also have seating where customers can enjoy any one of 14 varieties of drinking chocolates and coffee drinks. All the packaging is sleek and modern; brown and whites are our main colors and then we incorporate hints of other colors on different products. All of production takes place on site and can be viewed through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall between the retail store and production area. Clientele ranges from young to old, locals and out of town visitors. Also, we just opened a new boutique at 401 Hayes Street in San Francisco. This has the same modern feel but a totally different design than our Kansas City store design. All of our future stores will have a totally different design concept to them. This store will also have the drinking chocolate bar feature to it as well.

How do you sell your chocolate?

We sell by the piece. They range from $1.50 to $2.00, depending on the size of box.

How many varieties of chocolates do you have?

We have a 21 piece collection available in our boxed collections but then in the store we have about 30 varieties out on the counter at any one given time. About 15 of the flavors we have year round, the others change either seasonally or inspirationally.

What brand(s) of chocolate do you use?

Valrhona, E. Guittard and El-Rey are our primary brands, then we use other brands in some pieces such as DeVries Chocolate, Chocovic. In all we have about 7 to 8 brands in house that we use in our current collection.

What are your signature flavors?

Probably our caramel infused with fresh rosemary. It was one of the first pieces I made and still one of the most popular today.

Most unique piece?

Currently, it is called ‘Persia.’ It has a layer of almond marzipan topped with dark chocolate ganache that is infused with saffron, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and orange blossom water.

Favorite pieces?

We are doing a Costa Rican piece made with Steve DeVries chocolate that is my current favorite. Steve is creating some of the most incredible chocolates I have ever had the chance to work with. The darker the better.

How do you ship your chocolates?

We ship using FedEx and utilizing insulated boxes when appropriate. How does your shop differ from others?

The most unique aspect of our shop is our drinking chocolate bar where we serve 14 varieties of drinking chocolate such as coconut curry, citrus, ginger-caramel and hazelnut. We have three to four flavors of hand-made marshmallows as well.

Quote:

“There is no reason not to strive for perfection with everything that we do… we can be better every day.”