Valentine’s Day is coming up and it’s all about chocolate. Anne-Laure tells us how she started to work with chocolate over a year ago.
Give me three words to describe Anne-Laure
Creative, curious and perfectionist.
How long have you been living in the area? Tell us about your background.
I’ve been living in Seattle for 5 years, I first came here to follow my husband Olivier. My background shows how much I like change: mechanical engineer, master’s degree in political economy, economist, food blogger, head of the innovation unit of a supermarket brand, and now chocolate maker.
What made you start your chocolate company?
I’ve always loved cooking and my career has gradually taken me closer to this passion. When I came here, I wanted to be free to spend two months a year in France with our children. This meant that I couldn’t have a full-time job and had to be self-employed. I knew I had to do something related to food.
I love sugar and I love chocolate even more. I like its delicate flavors and the whole process of making it. So, I studied, and I decided to give it a trial!
What is the story behind the brand Wild Peaks Chocolate?
The Wild Peaks are the volcanoes surrounding us in our beautiful region. My initial idea was to make volcano-shaped chocolates and I haven’t given up this project. Customized molds are pricey, so I started with more standard half-sphere molds. My son is working on the next step, volcano-shaped molds, and I’m already making praline-stuffed chocolate bars in the shape of a mountain range.
Tell us about your organization (production/distribution)
For production, I use the kitchen of L’Experience, on Mercer Island. L’Experience sells my chocolate on Mercer Island and in Bellevue, the French Bakery in Kirkland is going to have my chocolate as of February and I also sell online. Many of my customers come to my house in Kirkland to pick up the chocolate they ordered online.
I’m looking for smaller distributors and I’ve also contacted bigger retailers such as Met market and PCC. But its quite a long process.
What kind of chocolate do you currently sell? Tell us about your suppliers for chocolate and other products?
I specialize in praline because ganache has a shorter lifespan. I also make hand-made Gianduja-stuffed chocolate with caramelized hazelnut, it’s one of my new flavors.
I use Valrhona chocolate and I buy hazelnuts and almonds from a Seattle wholeseller (Merlinos). The quality of chocolate plays an essential role in the flavor of the final product. I believe Valrhona, a great French brand, makes the best couverture chocolate.
What about competition? Do other brands sell praline chocolate?
Nobody here knows how to make French-style praline, so I’d say my chocolate is unique. Fran’s sells praline chocolate, but mine is much better!!!
Valentine’s Day is coming up. Any special on this occasion?
I will mostly work on packaging, with pretty pink boxes. For Easter, I’m going to make praline eggs, like last year, and origami-style bunnies for L’Expérience Paris.
What is the simplest way to order your chocolates?
You can place an order on Wild Peaks Chocolates website.
Great places you recommend?
L’Expérience Paris on Mercer Island or in Bellevue: great galettes bretonnes, viennoiseries and Mariage Frères Tea, of course. The French Bakery in Kirkland. The best place for a summer dinner in Kirkland is the gorgeous terraces of Como, at Carillon Point. You’re overlooking the lake, at sunset and enjoying excellent Italian cuisine in a very elegant setting. Try not to eat inside, though because the room is very noisy.
Thank you !
Translated by Céline