Archive for the ‘People’ Category
Friday, February 5th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Over the years I have had the good fortune of “collecting” all kinds of wonderful friends from around the world. Friendships are precious and should be treated like valuable gem stones. One thing I discovered is that the quickest way to find new friends is to open a chocolate company. I can’t tell you how many great people I’ve “met” through the internet on the Choclatique website.
The people who I am most proud to call my friends are those men and women serving in the military especially those serving so far away from home. I have “pen pals” in Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is still hard for me to fathom that so many women are serving in these difficult, high risk areas.
As we approach Valentine’s Day some of the letters we receive from our soldiers and sailors are enough to break your heart. One that just arrived from Afghanistan is from a member of one of our Special Forces units. These are people who do the most heroic and dangerous jobs in the world and put their lives on the line every day so we can continue to enjoy our lives safely here in the States.
I wanted to share one of the letters I received last week that brought tears to my eyes.
It was a rough Christmas for my family and me. My fiancé has cancer and I got back from deployment in the beginning of December knowing I would be back in Afghanistan in January. While I was here in 2009 I discovered Choclatique. I thought it would be a gift worthy of giving to my darling gal. What I really love is being able pick unusual; personal treats for her while I am away. She was going through a real rough time. Right after she got the box of Choclatique, she raved about it for days. I knew she loved it so every month or so I sent another box. I told her I wanted to share a box with her when I got back home. Needless to say she was right! They are amazing!
We knew she had to go for her surgery the day I left to go back Afghanistan. We ordered some chocolate over the Christmas holiday so that we could steal a few special moments together.
It is so hard knowing that the woman you love may not be there the next time you come home, and that you have to leave on the day when she needs you the most. A good bottle of wine and Choclatique’s Napa Valley Wine Chocolates made all the worries go away for the time we shared them together. We both feel that no matter where we are on this earth, there are a few things we can taste and feel that will bring back all of the precious memories when we are together. That is how we have grown to cope. It is truly the little things in life which are the most important. It is within these memories where you find true happiness thousands of miles away from home.
She had a successful surgery and is in recovery, and it is my job to keep her spirits high while she recovers.
Afghanistan…It is not all that bad. We just got rid of our cots and have some makeshift beds. The odd thing is the springs in the beds are sideways so instead of getting an up and down motion when you sit on them you get thrown off when you roll over in the middle of the night. The food is standard, but it seems a lot of of it is fried. I miss California’s fresh fruit and avocados.
The country itself is very dusty, rocky, and high in elevation. We are about to enter our 120 days of spring-summer winds. They blow every day like a bad northeastern storm. We are not looking forward to that! Most of the camp has air conditioning and heat, so even when it does snow or is 120 degrees we manage to keep comfortable. One thing for sure is that no matter what happens, because of the men I serve with over here, I always feel safe. Good training back in the States and the quality of men that I serve with, helps me I know we will all come back safe.
The locals are friendly and it is nice to see the children wave at us as we pass by. It brings a smile to my face. l feel like we’re making a difference here and in some strange way because it reminds me of my home—friendly kids and neighbors waving as I drive to my house. It is still the most dangerous on earth and we have to make sure we are not getting complacent.
Our base is small, but our unit provides all of our necessary stuff…not many extras Every now and then we travel to one of the other larger bases which have an actual exchange, the Burger King, Pizza Huts and some American consumer goods. But I feel we are better off without them, as our base is the perfect meld between sleeping in the dirt, eating boxed ready-to-eat meals without too many distractions.
I really love my job, but the most important thing is to cling on to 3 or 4 memories which you will die for to get back to the States safe and sound. My fiancé is my reason to get back to the states, as we had her trial with cancer. So I have to do my part now and make it safely back to her. Chocolates are one of the 4 memories which we have that brings us back to what we know is waiting for us. Ed, I really miss California. It is heaven on earth. I miss my fiancé and miss walking the beaches and the Santa Monica Pier.
My idea was to create something special for Valentine’s Day for my team. Christmas was good for them, but after a few deployments I feel every month or two you have to grab a holiday and try to make it special. It keeps your mind off the things you miss the most, even if it just for a few moments.
That really makes me happy that you can ship over here! I will place my order right away. Thank you again for listening and please know that we really appreciate the amazing chocolates that you create!
Gunnery Sergeant (name withheld)
If you have a loved one serving in the military, please remember them for Valentine’s Day with LOVE and Easter with CHICKS, Mother’s Day with SPRING, Father’s Day CARAMELS, NUTS & NOUGATS. Choclatique will automatically add extra goodies to your shipment at our expense to show our appreciation for the sacrifice and service for our fighting men and women. Call us to make special shipping arrangements to ship as early as possible to US Military APO Addresses.
May God bless them all and bring them back to us safe, sound and soon.
Thursday, September 10th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
In many westernized countries, the 21st birthday is a milestone symbolizing that a youth has come “of-age.” The age of twenty-one is usually the time when one is considered to be fully adult, able to sign contracts and drink alcohol. This was the case when our youngest chocolatier, Pedro, celebrated his 21st birthday with his co-workers at Choclatique. I must confess I didn’t know that he was only 19 years old when he graduated culinary school and came to work with us as a chocolatier’s apprentice. “P” has really come a long way in such a short period of time,” says Karen, Senior Choclatique Chocolatier. “He is one of the best new chocolatier we have. Pedro not only loves his work, but he is a lover of everything chocolate and is one of the best tasters in the Chocolate Studio.”
Turning 21 is a right of passage for “P.” This weekend Pedro will move into his own apartment just a few blocks away from the Choclatique office. He will also spend part of his special weekend in Las Vegas.
To help him celebrate, Executive Chef Wayne prepared a Fresh Blueberry Chocolate Whipped Lemon Crème Fraîche Mousse Tort with Lemon Chocolate Planks. Now that’s a mouthful to say… and to eat.
Let’s hear it for being 21 and wishing Pedro a very Happy Birthday with many happy returns.
Drink More Chocolate
Here’s a “spirited” way to celebrate your 21st birthday with chocolate. Have your personal bartender make you a hot or cold chocolate beverage with Choclatique’s Dark Chocolate Drinking Mix, Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Drinking Mix or Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Drinking Mix and add a shot of light rum or vanilla vodka.
Or, enjoy Pedro’s Favorite Chocolate Martini:
Pedro’s Favorite “Birthday Bash” Chocolate Martini
There are many ways to make a great chocolate martini. Start by choosing your favorite spirit such as light rum, vodka or brandy as a base to shake with a chocolate liqueur. If you’re looking for a fruitier taste, pick a flavored vodka or rum such as citrus or raspberry. For a sweeter taste, use a vanilla flavored vodka or rum.
For that professional mixologist look, start by coating the rim of the martini glasses with a little chocolate syrup and dip them in Choclatique Decoratifs and finish garnish with Choclatique White or Dark Chocolate Curls.
1 Tbls. Chocolate Syrup
1 Tbls. Choclatique Decoratifs
1 Choclatique Ebony Dark Chocolate Pastille
2 oz. Base Liquor (vodka, light rum or brandy)
½ oz. Chocolate Liqueur
½ oz. White Crème de Cacao
1 Tsp. Choclatique White or Dark Chocolate Curls
- Coat rim of martini glass with chocolate syrup and decoratifs (the same way you would coat a glass with salt for a margarita).
- Place a single pastille in the bottom of the glass.
- Mix the base liquor, Chocolate Liqueur and crème de cacao in a cocktail shaker with ice—shake well—and strain into a martini glass.
- Garnish with chocolate curls.
Enjoy a Safe and Sane 21st Birthday
- 72% of men do not believe that getting drunk to celebrate one’s 21st birthday is a rite-of-passage. It may be traditional to consume some alcohol on your 21st birthday, but many choose not to focus their celebration on alcohol.
- 80% of men do not attempt to consume 21 drinks. Those who attempt 21 drinks are almost assured of vomiting, blacking out, and experiencing alcohol overdose.
- 77% of men do not attempt “the crawl” during their 21st birthday celebration. Those who do the crawl end up drinking 50% more than those who do not.
- Don’t be one of the 33% of people who experience a blackout during their 21st birthday celebration. To avoid blackouts, avoid drinking too much, too quickly.
- Don’t be one of the 32% of people who vomited during their 21st birthday celebration. To avoid vomiting altogether, consume fewer than 4 drinks.
- Don’t be one of the 30% of people who had an estimated blood alcohol level of .28, putting them at risk for serious complications from DWI and/or alcohol poisoning.
- Take it slow, pace yourself, and take some steps to moderate consumption and you may have several more 21 years to celebrate other birthdays.
Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Joan Vieweger and I were the co-hosts on ABC’s The Food Show for 5½ years. Julia Child was a frequent guest when she was in Los Angeles. After all, who would ever turn Julia down if she asked to be on your show? There was just one problem, every time she was in studio for a pre-record, Joan was traveling. It became a joke. Our talented editor was able to ask Joan questions on her return and then edit the segment so it was seamless—it always looked like Ed, Joan and Julia were in the studio together.
Several years later in the lobby of the Fairmount Hotel in Chicago, Julia spotted me off to the side and ran over full tilt leaving her small entourage behind, demanding to know in that booming voice of hers, “Ed is Joan here? Is Joan here? I want to meet Joan.” The two of them finally met and Julia, being the gracious grand dame of food hugged Joan in her arms until she tuned blue. You would have thought that Julia and Joan were long lost cousins.
Here is the difference… one of the most creative, talented and giving ladies of our industry found the time to go out of her way to meet a fellow foodie—an admirer of hers—and treat her as an equal. This made a lasting impression that Joan still talks about today.
Julia always had respect for the food and respect for the people who worked in the industry and was a genuinely super wonderful person. Contrast that with some of the “superstar” chefs and food critics who populate the reality food shows today who, while entertaining to some, denigrate our industry, the young chefs working to make a name for themselves and all we stand for.
Here’s a toast to Julia. Hip, hip hooray!
Thursday, July 16th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
I love doing radio. I have had several of my own shows over the years from Stump the Chef and The Food Show to The Super Foodies (no cape or tights involved!). My partner, Joan, co-hosted with me on the last two.
Occasionally we were asked to sub for the overnight guys at KABC in Los Angeles. Overnight talk radio is something else. It brings out all of the late night wackos. So when I was asked be on The Joey Reynolds show the first time, well… I was a bit skeptical.
Then I discovered that Joey Reynolds is the true leader of The Royal Order of the Night People. He’s “Mr. Nice Guy” from coast-to-coast, where his show is the absolute king of the night.
Joey rose to national fame as a Top 40-radio personality, and many leading authorities in radio think of Joey as the person who invented shock talk radio
. A few years ago, he was the focus of a two-part series on the Oprah Winfrey Show
about radio talk personalities. Joey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for his accomplishments in radio, television, and music.
Today, his unique style of radio-TV personality is a bit more mellow, but he is still able to attract and maintain huge and phenomenally loyal audiences in such markets as New York, Denver and Philadelphia. His radio shows sparkle with a rare and wonderfully sharp, spontaneous wit and his guests are truly legendary. So, I’m always delighted when I am in New York to be invited back to the show… perhaps not so much for my sparking personality as much as for our wonderful Choclatique Chocolate.
This last time I was on the show was the night that Michael Jackson passed away. The first guest of the evening was Ron Luxemburg, former president of Epic Records who was responsible for the Jackson cross-over career. The story that Ron told was that Barry Gordy actually agreed to let Michael leave Motown because he saw the singer’s great potential as a cross-over artist.
And then Joan and I were on. Now, that’s a tough act to follow on a very sad night, but from that moment on, it was all about Choclatique. The one really great thing about being on with Joey and producer, Myra Chanin, is that I never have to toot my own horn. I just feed them all chocolate and let Joey, Myra and all of the other guests talk about Choclatique Chocolate all night long.
We had planned to talk about our new Choclatique Moon Rocks Collection in celebration of man’s first walk on the moon 40 years ago this month, but because of the untimely death of Michael Jackson we dedicated the assortment—for that night only—to “The Moon Walker” himself—M.J.
It’s always a treat to be on with the king… the real King of Overnight Radio… my pal Joey.
Joan Vieweger, Joey Reynolds, Ed Engoron and Myra Chanin on the overnighter Joey Reynolds Show, WOR, New York
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
After writing about Grandpa Max a few weeks back my bother Roy suggested that I write about my mother’s mother.
Grandmother Fanny lived on the top floor of a 5-story walk-up in Brooklyn, New York. She was a tiny lady, not even 5 feet tall, but she was a wonderful cook, baker and candy maker who made the most delicious butter toffee crunch that you ever tasted. Nobody could do it better. It seemed like she was able to squeeze 5 pounds of butter into a 1 pound slab of her ever-popular butter toffee crunch. The way it crunched between your teeth and melted in your mouth was a taste of ecstasy.
The only one who had a copy of the recipe was my cousin Elliot who had hovered over Fanny and copied everything she did one afternoon while she was making her magic concoction.
Elliot was kind enough to share this recipe with me when we decided to make butter toffee crunch at Choclatique. We faithfully use Fanny’s original old-fashioned butter toffee crunch recipe as a base for our Chocolate-Almond Butter Toffee Bites.
We start with Hawaiian-grown pure cane sugar, double score dairy-fresh butter and rich, pure, extra-strong real vanilla. We use our signature dark chocolate—Choclatique Private Reserve (64%), fresh oven-roasted California almonds, roasted cocoa nibs and just a touch of Saigon cinnamon to cover our rich, butter toffee crunch. Nothing has changed since Fanny first made her first batch back in the 1930’s.
Our traditional Chocolate-Almond Butter Toffee Bites are packaged in a chocolate brown ballotin box and double sealed for freshness. They make the perfect melt-in-you-mouth gift or party favor and they’re a wonderful delicious treat any time of day.
Here’s a cheer to you Grandmother Fanny.
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
At a Memorial Day barbecue a few weeks back a bunch of us were talking about our parents and families and the passing of generations. The discussion centered on which generation in American history was the greatest. After a long debate, we came to a friendly consensus that each generation since the founding of this union shared in the greatness of America. Our family included.
After my father passed away, I found a box of his “little treasures” that he had kept for years. I never had looked through the box of his personal letters and mementos; they were just there sitting on the top shelf of my closet. I don’t know why, but after the party and after all the talk, I felt compelled to search through his box of little treasures.
As I lifted the lid, I found some tiny baby booties. I’m not sure if they were mine, my brother’s or maybe even my father’s. It’s hard to believe that my feet were ever that small. I found an old autograph book—a collection of long-forgotten boxers, baseball players and a wrestler or two. A Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ebbets Field seat cushion autographed by Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snyder from the 1955 World Series. I guess way back then you didn’t have to fork over $1000 for an All-Star Athlete’s signature.
And then I stumbled onto some hand-written, seemingly secret “code” on a back page of the New York Times from 1904. There, scribbled in his own hand, over a picture of my Grandfather Max and none other than my presidential idol, Theodore Roosevelt, was a secret message. Max and TR? Was this story about Max being named an ambassador to some exotic foreign country or to a cabinet post? Was he returning from some secret spy mission? No, it was all about peanut brittle… not just any peanut brittle, but Max’s crunchy peanut brittle that was pictured with Max handing it to TR himself.
I had heard that old Max owned a moving company way back when the “vans” were pulled by horses. I heard the legend of how he had grabbed onto a rope that had broken away from a safe that his workers were hauling up to the 5th floor by block and tackle; he saved a half dozen kids below. I remember he used to tell us his heroic story showing us the burn scars on his hands. I also heard that he was a gentlemen’s banker, a stock broker, even a tax collector. But now, looking through my dad’s treasured keepsakes, I found out that Max made peanut brittle—not just any peanut brittle, but brittle fit for a President.
As I read on, I discovered the recipe dated back to the 1870s or ‘80s when Max first perfected his peanut “packin’” stuffed peanut brittle. Everyone, TR included, proclaimed that it was the best on earth. After a few calls to relatives, I found out that Max started delivering his fresh peanut brittle to the Roosevelt family when they lived in New York City. When T.R. became president, Max was asked to deliver his peanut brittle to Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay. In fact, rumor has it that his peanut brittle even made to the White House in Washington.
The cryptic, hand-written code turned out to be the recipe—Max’s secret peanut brittle recipe. I couldn’t wait to get to the Chocolate Studio on Tuesday and try it for myself. I started up the fire pot, added the sugars, syrups and butter—just plain honest ingredients—and turned it into a steaming caldron of molten goo. Wow! At 305º I stirred in the Spanish-style peanuts, added the vanilla and then shut off the gas. I got a little help to pour the magic mixture out on to the cooling slab. After a suitable cooling time, everyone agreed I had duplicated Max’s perfect peanut brittle recipe on the first try. Hey, Grandpa, I aced it the first time. Was this good enough to add to the Choclatique Collection? You bet.
While traditional peanut brittles tend to be a bit hard on the teeth (filling-pullers) and somewhat difficult to eat, Max’s secret recipe combines an abundance of Spanish, red-skin, US-grown peanuts into a perfectly-cooked, buttery, sugar brittle. The result is a much lighter bite that leaves a long-lasting, wonderful all-natural flavor you’ll never forget.
If you truly appreciate great peanut brittle, you will understand why Max’s customers said it is the very best they ever tasted. We are confident you will feel the same way when you take your first bite of our new Peanut Brittle Bites.
Now you might ask, how do you improve on perfection? Add a little chocolate, of course. Grandpa Max’s peanut brittle has been enhanced with a wonderful, light coating of Choclatique’s Prestige Milk Chocolate (32%) and dusted with crushed peanuts.
Our peanut brittle bites make wonderful gifts for family and friends, not to mention a terrific “personal stash.” They’re also a terrific thank-you or corporate gift. What was once a family secret is now available every day in the original 1870’s recipe and milk chocolate covered, too.
Max’s (and now Choclatique’s) old-fashioned Peanut Brittle Bites are now available all year round at Choclatique.com.