The package was waiting for me at the doorstep as we pulled into the driveway. “Quick! Run and get it before the kids see it”, I thought! Like a dog with a bone, I swept up the brown cardboard box and stole away into the bedroom. This was my treat. And I wasn’t sharing it with anyone. At least not right now.
For some, chocolate excites the mind and heightens the senses. For others, it calms and soothes the nerves. For me, it quiets the clatter in my head and, for a moment, the silence is bliss. Whichever way you look at it, chocolate can mean many things to many people and for that it is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to thrive in the U.S. market today.
Similar to that of wine, chocolate taste and quality varies depending on the ingredients and processes involved in its production. Surrounded with so many options, choosing that perfect blend can be a challenging task for the chocolate lover and connoisseur. To run a successful chocolate shop in this business, its important to take the guess work out of the decision making process for the consumer. Having a specialty niche certainly doesn’t hurt matters either. L.A. Burdick Chocolate knows all this and much more!
Securely placed between ice-packs and packing material sat a finely wrapped wooden box elegantly dressed with a brown French wired ribbon and stamped with a classy, gold wax seal, the letter “B” for Burdick. It felt like a sin to break the seal, but, feeling unhallowed, I went ahead and did it anyways. I opened the lid and removed layers of carefully hand folded brown and cream tissue paper to reveal twelve tuxedoed penguins. With an ear to ear grin, I was amused. Their taste? Heavenly. Handmade with a rich and creamy dark chocolate ganache that could flush a vampire, I knew instantly, these chocolates were top shelf and among the best I had ever had!
It Started with an Idea...
Larry Burdick is a man of vision and good taste. For a long while, he wore many hats as both chef and apprentice while living in France and Switzerland with wife and former New York fashion designer, Paula Burdick. With a passion for fine cuisine, pastry, and confections, this Boston native, accredits much of his success today to techniques and philosophies he learned from his French and Swiss predecessors. As a young man just starting out, Larry had an advantage over his European and American counterparts. Where, normally, trade recipes are kept on the hush from competitive markets and surrounding regions, such information was free press to Larry. Be it his youthful, American innocence or his eagerness to learn, the Europeans took a liking to Larry and for that he is thankful . He returned to the United States with a simple and basic idea: to creatively market a dark chocolate experience in small batches and portions consisting of only the freshest and finest ingredients.
That Grew and Evolved...
In 1984 Larry and Paula returned to New York where Larry actively started making chocolates and confections in there truest form. With the market wide open, Larry touched down on what would become one of the most rapidly growing segments of the chocolate sector today: premium dark and organic chocolate. In 1987, Larry and Paula founded L.A. Burdick Chocolate catering to upscale restaurants and hotels in New York City. Paula tapped into her own talents masterminding a packaging and marketing program rich with color, silks, and textures that captured the class, quality, and elegance of their chocolate. It didn't take long before patrons and consumers started inquiring about Burdick's chocolates and wanting to know where they could buy some of their own. What started out as a wholesale business soon evolved into a thriving web and mail-order business. The Burdicks would find a balance between catering to growing consumer demand and their own desire to start a family by relocating to the quaint, New England town of Walpole, New Hampshire. There, they opened a manufacturing facility that allowed them to expand upon their business while maintaining delivery to their New York clientele. Gaining the affections and support of local neighbors and townsfolk, the Burdicks were persuaded to open their first storefront on picturesque Main Street in Walpole, New Hampshire. And, as they say, "the rest is history". Today the Burdicks maintain an online and direct marketing business with stores and cafes in Walpole, Cambridge, and New York City as well as a processing plant that is underway in Grenada!
For the Love of Chocolate...
Simply put, Burdick chocolates are the best of the best. The sugar content is low and the portions small resulting in a healthier more intense and complex flavor. Herbs and spices are used sparingly to further enhance the chocolate experience rather than mask it. Only the finest and freshest ingredients are used. Premium cocoa beans are purchased from select regions in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean which are then sent to old world producers in Switzerland, France, and Venezuela to form a diverse blend of high quality chocolate blocks that Burdick will transform into rich and flavorful bonbons and truffles. There are no molds, no preservatives, no extracts, no concentrates, and no artificial flavorings. Chocolates are creatively hand piped, cut, and shaped by loving hands. There are no fats and oils, only pure, local cream, butter, and eggs purchased straight from the farms of New Hampshire. Quality nuts and dried fruits are imported from California and Turkey.Vanilla extract is replaced by wholesome Mexican vanilla beans. Liquids include fine cognacs, rums, and spirits, freshly brewed coffees and teas, and hand squeezed lemon and orange juices. Fresh zests, fruits, and spices are sprinkled atop a light coating of chocolate that harbors a smooth and creamy ganache. A great deal of care goes into the making of these chocolate delicacies and no two batches are the same. It is a slow and involved process that is very hands on from start to finish. Burdick's efforts pay off in the outstanding quality of the chocolates they produce.
In addition to their gourmet chocolate bonbons and truffle assortments, other specialties include Burdicks famous hot chocolate, available in dark, milk, and white chocolate and their hand crafted critter collection of chocolate mice, penguins, bunnies, and bees. All products are made fresh to order in small batches. It is recommended that the chocolate be consumed within four days to experience their full flavor and essence, however they will keep up to 3-4 weeks upon receipt of your order.
And a Desire to do Good...
The way in which the Burdicks relate and interact with clientele and associates is very much similar to their approach in making chocolates...It's a nurturing process built on integrity, support, and commitment. With just over 150 employees in three different locations in Cambridge, New York, and Boston, their management team has remained relatively small and very connected. Burdicks Chocolates take great pride in all they do and they understand the importance of giving back. Not only do they value their customers and employees, but they are also putting their best foot forward to support local farmers, artist, and businesses associates. You need to know that in addition to the Burdicks prospering chocolate business, Paula and Larry also own and operate a fine, french inspired restaurant and local market stationed in the center of the town where they live in Walpole. Supporting local farmers and businesses, they stock a small storefront with fresh produce, meats, and fine cheeses from local farmers and businesses as well as delicacies from abroad. All the food offered in their store is the same food used to prepare the menu entrees in their restaurant that's literally right next door. The restaurant has an ambiance that is intimate, casual, comforting, and classy. The walls are decorated with works of art on display and for sale from local and surrounding artists. Each month features a new artist and, like the Burdicks, the scene is constantly changing. Just recently, Burdick Chocolates partnered with farmers in the Caribbean region of Grenada to open their own chocolate factory....Something quite uncommon in the States and a move that will have tremendous impact on Burdick's position in the U.S. chocolate industry as well as the economic status for farmers in Grenada. In theory, the cocoa bean is perhaps the most important component in chocolate making. To the Burdicks, who have a natural affection to these fertile lands and beans, it seemed only logical to incorporate Grenada into their life and business plan. Right now the Burdicks are purchasing equipment for the factory and hope to be up and running in early 2011. This puts the money back in the farmers pockets as now they will not only be selling beans, they will bet getting a real cut of the action as a major player in a thriving industry. In return, Burdick will have better control of their chocolate making process and in the long run save money by not having to import and export from around the world...this will give them a huge edge in the U.S market as most chocolatiers import their beans and chocolate blocks.
Acknowledgements and Accolades...
A warm thanks goes out to co-owner Paula Burdick and Customer Service Manager, Roxanne Faxon for their gracious hospitality on our trip to Walpole. We had an exquisite lunch at the restaurant complete with fine wine, pastries, and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Paula and Roxanne offered up a wealth of information giving us a real feel for Burdick's company and mission. These are genuine people passionate about what they do. They are willing to go the extra mile to offer exceptional customer service and a product that meets only the highest of standards. Having taken time out of their busy schedules to spend nearly three hours with us on a Saturday, their commitment to building and personalizing relationships is obvious. Burdick Chocolate is more than just a pretty package of fine chocolate, they are the epitome of the traditional New England work ethic, exemplifying excellence in product, service, and civic responsibility. They hold true to American values and beliefs in helping neighbors and friends for the better good...And they do it in a setting with a style and charm that is purely New England.
For more information, visit L.A. Burdick Chocolate
Written By : Jessica Layne
Let us help promote your business with a story ABOUT YOU! For more information, visit our Advertising and Promotions page. To stay up to date on our latest stories and information around New England, visit our home page at www.allthingsnewengland.com, follow us on Twitter or become a fan on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!