Sharing Stories in Bits & Bites

Oh, Just One Little Taste

“Each time I tell myself it’s the last time, but then I get a whiff of her hot chocolate…”

‘Chocolat‘, one of my favourite foodie movies…ahh yes the perfect one to get me in the spirit to write about Hot Chocolates in Courtenay…

Some clever people say that eating chocolate creates the same feeling within you that love does. Indeed, this is a love story. A mother and daughter’s love for their business, a man’s love for his dear wife and eventually the love for a community of people who share a passion for chocolate.

Within weeks of moving to Nanaimo, a wonderful friend told me if I was going up to Courtenay…I HAD to go to here. “Even if you don’t get anything, just go in and look and smell!” This was long before I had started my blog and I admit, not being a huge chocolate fan…I didn’t make it the first few times I ventured up Island.

Fortunately, they brought a sample to Bubbles on the Beach, and I was impressed…and of course curious. The Hot Chocolates story began in 1986 when Deanna Stewart and her daughter Sherry Marshall-Bruce opened a tiny shop in the quaint Courtenay downtown. Armed only with their hand crafted recipes and sheer determination, they grew the store into a well loved confectionary. Later on Jorden Marshall entered the scene both as a business partner and Sherry’s partner in life.

The trays of truffles, just finished and ready to be packaged …yum!

With Jorden’s natural talents in both marketing and promotion, the business continued to expand and develop. The keys of their success, from his perspective are threefold. First, the quality of the product. They only use the finest ingredients made in small batches in-house, using Sherry’s original, treasured recipes. Next would be …well, the sizzle. Their promotion, the gorgeous, well-planned store displays and the stunning packaging that makes every recipient feel like they are extra special. Last but not least, Jorden credits the entire community. Their dedicated, hard-working staff, their loyal clientele and those new folks that stumble across the storefront and are won over by the delightful sights and smells. That support has been earned, however. Hot Chocolates has a wonderfully respectful and close relationship with their employees. He even makes a wonderful home-made tortilla soup for them…and he shared the recipe here! Jorden, as an integral part of the Local Rotary Club, has gone above and beyond to give back to the community in a generous variety of ways. It’s a positive symbiosis that really works, and one that many small businesses could model.

The stunning Valentine’s display along with local art from Tracy Kobus

Like any love story however, this one has a taste of sadness. Tragically, Sherry passed away after a heroic battle against cancer. Many businesses would have dissolved with the loss of one of their leaders. Fortunately, her giving and optimistic spirit shone through and Jorden claims that his staff took up the reigns and kept Hot Chocolates moving forward, even though he may have just given up. Listening to him talk about the love of his life makes it very easy to write this story in the spirit of Valentines Day. Sherry’s passion and love lives on through her recipes and the people that she inspired. You can feel the difference in this shop. Everything is created flavoured with love.

Today Hot Chocolates shares the store front with Cakebread Artisan Bakery. Upon arrival, you are welcomed into the aroma of fresh pastries, steaming coffee and of course, more chocolate than you can imagine. The staff are friendly and helpful, the displays are not only beautiful but informative and the community gathers at a sprinkling of tables, set just right for lively conversation.

One of the delightful treats from Cakebread...
One of the delightful treats from Cakebread…

Remember…I said I wasn’t really a fan of chocolate. I think Jorden took that as a personal challenge! As we were wandering the shop and I was taking photos, he was gathering an assortment of truffles and salted caramels for me to sample. Miraculously, I didn’t assault the glamorous packaging until much later that night. Seated in front of my computer, with a lovely glass of Merlot in hand…I sampled the first truffle.

Wait. A. Minute.

That’s not chocolate!

It’s a taste of heaven! I was converted with the first bite.”My name is Deidre, and I do love chocolate”. But it has to be really good chocolate. As Jorden said “Everything in moderation, but if you are going to indulge…it should be the best”. I wholeheartedly agree.

So this year, if you are looking for a sweet treat for your loved one, consider something decadent from Hot Chocolates, not to worry if you aren’t nearby, you can order online. Wander over to their Facebook page and ‘like’ it, they always have great pictures and cute things to share, Cakebread too!

There is a difference.

Here, you can actually taste the love ♥ it’s a wonderful thing.

…and it melts, God forgive me, it melts ever so slowly on your tongue, and tortures you with pleasure.


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