I don’t mean to sound like a self-help guru, but I have to ask you this question: Is this the life you’ve always envisioned for yourself? For most people I’ve talked to, including owner and chief chocolatier of Beijo de Chocolat Laura Case, the answer is no. But that’s not to say that what they are doing is negative. Rather, it’s quite the opposite.
Here’s some undeniable evidence: Laura is a woman who took her career in the sports television industry and transformed it into none other than a chocolate-making success. She quit her job, attended classes at the French Pastry School, and fell in love with chocolate-making. Upon visiting her shop on the Northwest side of Chicago, I asked her if she always knew she wanted to do this line of work. She looked up from the crêpe batter she was swirling in a pan and said to me, “Oh gosh, no!” But she is happy about the new path she has taken. After being in the television industry for so long, Laura was ready for the change. “I decided I wanted to do something that really made me happy, and could make other people smile, too.”
And smile, I did! Especially after that first bite of a “Le Monkey” crêpe – a thin, bronze, buttery dough filled with gooey chocolate, bananas, whipped cream, and coconut. You see, four years since opening her shop, Laura has surpassed all expectations for a mere chocolatier. In addition to her shop being part of the North Park University campus tour, Laura has won a host of awards from the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon! And it’s no wonder that Beijo de Chocolat was dubbed one of the nation’s best chocolatiers for two years in a row by Taste TV’s Chocolate Television channel for the past two years – all the items in the shop have been crafted individually. Instead of a factory machine that churns out identical chocolates, Laura makes everything by hand in her little kitchen in the back of the shop.
Find Laura’s chocolatey concoctions at Uptown and Independence Park farmers markets in Chicago, or visit their shop on Foster and Kimball for a real treat. Crêpes on Saturday mornings, espresso all day, plus smoothies, cookies, cakes, and last but chocolately not least… truffles. Who woulda thunk it? From sports television to chocolate extraordinaire, it may seem like a one-in-a-million type of story. But the truth is, many foodies started out with seemingly opposite career choices. But something – maybe the smell of chocolate wafting into their nostrils – guided them down the food path. From Chef Keem, a German-pop-star-turned-pastry-chef, to Farmer David, a Civil Rights Movement activist who left the city to start Kinnikinnick Farm, anyone can do it! And if Laura’s story is any lesson to us, following your passion can make life all the more sweet.
P.S. More photos to come after my chocolate themed photo shoot at the store next week!