As a little girl, Elyissia Ferrante sold her Mom’s homemade chocolates door-to-door in their Queens, New York, neighborhood. That ended abruptly when some bullies stole the candy and the proceeds, too.
Nowadays, Elyissia Chinchilla is married, her 2 Chicks with Chocolate sells upscale candy from stores in Metuchen, South River, Somerville and Middletown, and her money is safe in the bank.
Not so safe, it turned out, was the 2,000-square-foot production center in Middletown. Hurricane Sandy hit it hard.
“We took on six-feet of water,” Chinchilla says. They had to temporarily abandon the facility, loaded with specialized and hard to repair equipment from Italy, and move production to temporary space where everything had to be done by hand.
“It was a nightmare," Chinchilla says. "But it was either that or go bankrupt. My staff really, really came through.”
Chinchilla credits her mom, Barbara Ferrante, who she calls Chick Two, with inspiring her love of chocolate. Chinchilla studied marketing at Jersey City State College and worked in corporate telecommunications before she and her mom opened the first 2 Chicks production facility in South River in 2009.
Last year, they found new factory space and sold all 12,000 bonbons they made for Christmas. Now they are ready to spread the choco-love for Valentine’s Day.
Renowned master chocolatier Patrick Coston, who has appeared as a judge on Food Network Challenge, has helped them develop an array of flavors, including brown butter, spicy merlot, cabernet caramel and rosemary lemon. Day to day, a small staff, led by head chocolatier Stephanie Amanda Vazquez, painstakingly paints vibrant edible designs on the shell of the bonbons.
“It takes a lot of discipline and patience,” Chinchilla says.
2 Chicks offers catered Cocoa Bars for weddings and special events and classes in which students learn about cocoa, how to make their own truffles and pair chocolates with wine and beer.
As to her own Valentine’s Day preferences, “I’m a dark chocolate purist, and cranberry ganache is my absolute favorite,” Chinchilla says. "But my husband always gives me a box of Russell Stover’s. He thinks it’s the most hysterical thing ever.” Let it be noted she says this with a laugh.
2 Chicks with Chocolate
268 Main Street
387 Main Street
1300 Highway 35 South
9 Division Street
SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at suzannelowery.com.Click here to leave a comment