Chocolate Tourist Attraction in Chester, Virginia
Steve and Kim Taylor have created a chocolate tourist attraction in Chester VA
Chester, VA - Steve and Kim Taylor are producing bean-to-bar chocolate at their factory, Taylor Made Chocolate, in Chester, Virginia, a southern suburb of Richmond, Virginia. Their chocolate shop is located at Rivers Bend South Shopping Center, near the intersection of Rt. 10 and I-95, just west of Hopewell VA, where they hope to capture the attention of the 84,000 vehicles a day that pass through the area.
Since the opening of Hersheypark in 1907, chocolate has become a tourist attraction. Look for the Taylor Made Chocolate sign, “A Chocolate Attraction” going up in early March on I-95 at the Rt. 10 exit and stop by for a tour and a tasting.
The Taylors opened their chocolate shop in November 2017. After working 26 years in manufacturing, Steve cashed in his 401(k) and he and his wife Kim jumped head-first into the chocolate business. Steve is betting his success on the emerging food trend of artisan chocolate, which is growing at four times the rate of regular chocolate in the $16 billion chocolate industry. Steve sees the artisan chocolate trend following recent booming trends in the food industry with specialty yogurts, regional wines, whiskeys and craft beers.
“Chocolate is a complex fruit, with as many different flavor profiles as coffee or wine,” says Steve on the company’s website. “When you come in for your chocolate tasting and factory tour, you will be presented four chocolates with the same percent of cocoa from different regions of the world so you can experience just a few profile differences in cacao.”
As part of their business philosophy, the Taylors use only fair trade chocolate, which helps to reduce the practice of slave labor common in the cocoa industry. “Eighty percent of cocoa beans are made on slave labor,” says Steve. The Taylors buy fair trade chocolate from small-scale cocoa farmer cooperatives in Haiti. When cocoa is produced by fair trade, the farmers receive a fair price for their product and the workers receive a fair wage for their labor.
The Taylors use their company to help victims of human trafficking in the Richmond, Virginia, area by providing job training. They provide world class manufacturing training as well as food preparation training. Both of these skill sets are highly portable and enable the human trafficking survivor to begin a new life and career path. The Taylor’s call this “The sweet taste of freedom.”
The Taylors also offer training for students training to be culinary artists. Currently they have two externs, both U.S. Army veterans. Adam Moore is working toward an associate degree in pastry arts and science at Stratford Culinary School in Glen Allen, Virginia. The other extern, Christopher Windley is stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia and pursuing culinary arts degree with Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky. Fort Lee hosts the Department of Army’s Joint Culinary Center of Excellence.
“Having culinary experts training and sharing their confection-making knowledge with us really enhances our truffles and other great tasting chocolate treats,” says Steve. “We also are proud to show our support for our troops and help them advance their careers.”
The Taylors create their artisan chocolate confections in small batches using the chocolate they have made themselves from cacao beans. They encourage tours of their facility at 241 East Hundred Road in Chester. Visitors can see the multi-step process in manufacturing chocolate products. First, the beans are hand-sorted. Then they are roasted, winnowed, put through a pre-grinder stage and ground into particles smaller than a hair. At this point, cocoa butter and sugar are added and the chocolate is tempered, which firms the surface and gives it a shiny, flawless appearance.
Taylor Made Chocolates are sold from New Hampshire to South Carolina and as far west as Ohio in gourmet food and chocolate shops as well as wineries. They have just begun producing signature truffles, flavored with the vineyard’s own wine, for Ashton Creek Vineyard in Chester, Virginia and Courthouse Creek Cidery in Richmond, Virginia. They hope to begin making truffles for other wine, cider, and mead producers to offer in their tasting rooms. Soon Taylor Made Chocolates will be available in the Washington, DC, area on Amazon.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN HOPEWELL VA
For details on other things to see, do and taste in the Hopewell area, please contact the Hopewell and Prince George, VA, tourism office at https://www.hpgchamber.org/visitor-center or 1-800-863-8687. Travel advisers will be happy to share details on other artisan attractions, hotel accommodations, special mid-winter deals, historic attractions, food, musical performances and entertainment in and near Hopewell and Prince George, Virginia, just 20 miles south of Richmond, Virginia.
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