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Bean to bar: chocolate reflects its origins

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October 23 — TRAVERSE CITY – Dave and Shana Sicotte met at Culinary School in New York City. They combined their baking experience to produce Great Lakes Chocolate and Dessert Co. in northern Michigan.

The husband and wife team started a wholesale operation about three years ago, Shana said. They have provided desserts to area restaurants, wineries and grocery stores.

“We started as a truffle business and grew from there,” she said.

Although they continue to wholesale, they added retail space near Garfield Avenue in early August. There, customers can find their handmade chocolates and learn about the baking process.

All chocolate, be it cookies, truffles or other confectionery, is made in-house. Dave said they were one of a handful of chocolatiers who make desserts with their own chocolate.

“Chocolate comes in farmers’ bags,” Shana said. “It takes about a week to make chocolate. It’s a very elaborate process.”

Customers can also look at the cocoa beans, which Shana said many people have never seen. This is the start of their “bean to bar” method.

“We have about eight or nine single origin chocolates,” Dave said. “We use beans from one place in this country, instead of taking beans and mashing them together.”

That way, he said, customers can taste the “flavor profile” of each grain. Dave added that they don’t add flavors, but different tastes are raised depending on where the grain is coming from. They source from the Dominican Republic, Vietnam and other countries.

Shana said they invite people to taste chocolate the same way they taste wine.

“We want to be a space where people can come, not just for a special occasion,” she said. “They can indulge in everyday and affordable items.”

Chocolatiers join other chefs for a farm-to-table dinner on October 24 at the Danu Hof in Mancelona. Dave is providing dessert for this sold-out event.

They plan to start hosting holiday events – such as hot chocolates and private lessons – in November. Holiday pies may also be available.

Great Lakes Chocolate and Dessert Co. is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Alternatively, people can order items from greatlakeschocolate.co to ship them anywhere in the United States. Gift boxes and personalized orders are possible.


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