|Producers of the Month: Burke Mountain Confectionery & Tavernier Chocolates|
by Jon Megas-Russell
As Valentine’s Day nears and chocolate is on the mind we wanted to highlight two Vermont producers. The delicious chocolates of Burke Mountain Confectionery and Tavernier Chocolates are spectacular treats for you or a loved one!
Burke Mountain Confectionery
About six years ago they had a tasting at a Super Bowl party in Vermont and the feedback was so outstanding, they shared the chocolates with local retailers. The retailers were so impressed they began to take orders. Upon returning to the southeast, they decided to make the jump– to quit their jobs, buy a home in Vermont, move their family and start a chocolate business. Many of their friends and family thought they were crazy but they felt the next phase of their life was going to be in Vermont and it would bring much pleasure.
After many years of traveling the state, they settled on Burke as their home, having particularly enjoyed the Northeast Kingdom. Upon arriving they set up a production kitchen for their chocolates and started diving into truffles as their main offering. Their flavors, such as Maple Mocha Salted Caramel, and and Peppermint Bark have made a name for Burke Mountain Confectionery as “an experience, not just another item on the shelf.”
Burke Mountain Confectionery uses pure ingredients and seeks out local sources when possible. They use ingredients such as cream, sugar, chocolate and “no junk– it’s just simple but full of flavor.” Some of their local partnerships for their confections include goat caramel from Fat Toad Farm and apple wine from Eden Ice Cider.
When I asked Tom about his vision for the future he stated that he is already living his dream being in Vermont. He is excited for
continued growth and the plans to build on his local sourcing. Look out for their maple sampler collection or the sweet heart sampler throughout February.
In early 2014 they created their first chocolates to rave reviews from friends and family. The feedback was so positive that they began to receive catering requests for weddings. At that time they were doing business from their kitchen, but as they received “real” customers they knew they had “real” business potential on their hands. By the fall of 2014 they sublet a kitchen at the Cotton Mill and began to produce chocolate bars, filled chocolates and truffles. These chocolates are sold at their factory store, the Brattleboro Farmer’s Market, in stores such as our Co-op, and they even have a chocolate CSA.
As our conversation continued I learned that the sourcing and quality of their ingredients was extremely important to them. They love to use organic ingredients whenever possible, and they strive to source from farms that are providing fair wages and utilizing local producers and vendors. They currently work with more than 20 local vendors to obtain ingredients including Harlow’s Sugar House and Singing Cedars Apiaries. They even use compostable cellophane and recyclable boxes.
Dar and John also impressed upon me how important the flavor profile of each chocolate is to them. They want the flavors of the chocolate to blossom in the mouth and to be in concert with the many fruits and other ingredients they utilize. In the past they have made chocolates with porcini mushrooms, with Gilfeather turnips and, of course, with strawberries.
As they dream about the future of their business they want to make a deep impact on the local economy. They want to grow so they can provide local jobs with fair wages and health care.
As you ponder a treat for your loved one in February, look for their chocolate mendiants, chocolate charcuterie, and many varieties of chocolate bars.