Get To Know The Chocolate Maker
The first holiday of this new season is drawing near, and the luring song of Thanksgiving sweets and treats and pies and cobblers is calling. It can be difficult to avoid the sugar-coated everything all around you, not to mention the 80% discount the following day. The aching of my sweet tooth is coming on strong, but luckily, we’ve found Bittersweet Candy Co. founder, Heather Lent, to fill the cravings. Our local talents never cease to amaze me with what they have to offer. Heather makes it possible to enjoy a little something sweet (like her amazing Cherry Java Bark!) without the massive guilt (have you tried her dark chocolate bark?!) that usually immediately follows with her handmade, small batches of to-die-for chocolates.
Tell me a little bit about what got you into making chocolate. When did you first realize you could make a career out of it?
It all started making peppermint bark for my co-workers, approximately 15 years ago. They loved it and offered to pay for it the following year. Based on people’s reactions, I knew I was on to something and I always wanted to work for myself, so I started my own business.
What were you doing before you started making chocolate? Was it something you always did on the side?
I went to school for design, so I started out working in the printing business and always bartended on the side. That transformed into full-time bartending with the chocolate business on the side. Today, I make chocolate full time. I still dabble in bartending in the summer when the chocolate season slows down.
What is a typical workday like for you?
Having a separate commercial kitchen in my home that allows me to run my whole business from my house. Like most people, I wake up and check out what's happening on social media and use the morning to do office work. I usually start making chocolate after lunch, which consists of prepping whatever ingredients needed for that day’s order and then making the actual chocolate. In addition to making chocolate for my online and wholesale customers, I also participate in many festivals and local farmers markets. Basically, being in a small business, there are not a lot of "typical" days. My schedule flexes to the needs of my customers, and I love that.
How and when do you drink coffee?
Oddly enough, I didn't even have my first cup of coffee until my 40th birthday weekend, but you can't go to Louisiana and not have a cup of coffee and beignet at the legendary Cafe du Mond. Unfortunately, I am unable to have too much caffeine, so my Death Wish Coffee consumption is limited, however, I do grab a little bag of java bark for long car rides.
Here at Death Wish, our all-time favorite is the pretzel chocolate. What’s your favorite chocolate that you make?
I think it really depends on what you are craving that particular day. I agree with the salty pretzel love, it's definitely on the top of my list. Sometimes, I like the fruit & nut combos a lot. They are very satisfying as a little snack and somehow feel healthier. I think my all-time favorite is the Peppermint Bark. Not only is it the chocolate that launched my company, it just makes me feel good. I once read that peppermint is a natural mood enhancer and I have to think that is true. Just smelling it makes me happy and I truly love making it as much as I love eating it.
What is your favorite part of your job?
No question, the people. I am so humbled by how wonderful and loyal my customers have been. Owning a small business is hard sometimes. Luckily, I make something that makes people so happy, so I love when I get messages or emails telling me how much they love what I do. People send me pictures of their wedding favors or kid's parties with 50 chocolate mustaches. The instant feedback from events, when people try the chocolate of their eyes either getting really big or closed completely with a smile really move you forward and let you know you are doing it right. And don't get me started on the Death Wish customers. They have welcomed me into their community with open arms. Every time we come up with a cool new flavor, they always have such sweet things to say. The people that love my chocolate have given me the gift of doing what I love for a living. I will be forever thankful.