THE CALGARY CRUSADER: A talk with So Choklat founder Brad Churchill
Brad Churchill is a man on a mission. After learning that the expensive chocolate he had purchased was merely bought from a manufacturer, melted down and molded, he began experimenting in his own kitchen with cocoa beans from South America. “I felt deceived and lied to as a consumer when I found out that local chocolatiers don’t actually make their own chocolate. I took it upon myself at that time to make my own chocolate.”
That was the beginning of So Chocklat (the phonetic spelling of chocolate) in Inglewood, which opened in August 2008. The shop, one of only two in Canada, imports fermented cocoa beans, then roasts and processes them to make chocolate. “We’re not about pre-making our chocolate. As a consumer you are getting the best,” declares Churchill.
Churchill’s mission? Educate consumers, customize the experience of buying chocolate and eradicate the “air of mysticism” that has surrounded chocolate for centuries. “I’m providing awareness to the public that they never had before. Calgarians love to be educated,” says Churchill. “As a consumer you’re led to believe making chocolate takes years of experience and is secretive. That’s a bunch of baloney. It’s four simple ingredients, I’ve made recipes that are a lot more complex than that.”
Among the offerings at So Choklat are milk chocolate, dark chocolate and truffles that can be tailored to suit. “We do our truffle centres in the morning pre-made. Then we roll them in whatever the customer wants, dip them in whatever the customer wants and make the truffles right on the spot.”
The long time entrepreneur, whose other businesses include an internet company and a motorcycle company, works directly with farmers in Ocumare de la Costa, Venezuela; Tabasco, Mexico, and a region 300 miles from Bahia Brazil. Though building direct relationships has proved difficult and costly, Churchill knows that “it really makes the difference in a premium quality product. By working directly with the growers we pay more literally two and a half times more but the beans come all hand sorted.” Keep spreading the word.
For more about the chocolate making process and SoChoklat see the Winter 2008/2009 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.