Move over Willy Wonka, Yukon gets its own chocolate factory
'There's a lot of love that goes into it,' says owner Sydney Oland of new Whitehorse business
Yukon just got sweeter, thanks to a new chocolate shop that opened for business this month in Whitehorse.
Yukon Chocolate Company is owned and operated by Sydney Oland.
"This is my first foray as an owner, which is really exciting," said Oland. "It's an industry I know well and one that I am enthusiastic about."
Oland prides herself on being a small batch, bean to bar company, whose products are made with love.
"We are a tiny company and we are only making whole ingredient, minimally processed, stone-ground chocolate," said Oland. "Each batch of chocolate that I grind takes two or three roasts. It's all hand moulded and hand wrapped ... there's a lot of love that goes into it."
On top of the love Oland puts into her product, she makes sure her new business is ethical and its products are created using only high quality, raw ingredients.
"A lot of companies will buy chocolate mass and then reset it and mould it and sell it as theirs," said Oland. "I don't do that. I take whole, raw cacao and I roast it and grind it myself so I can really take ownership of the entire process."
My grandmother was a pastry chef so there was always some kind of sweets in the house- Sydney Oland, owner of Yukon Chocolate Company
Oland also ensures her cacao comes from quality farms that practice direct and fair trade as much as possible.
"I work really closely with all my distributors," she said.
That principles aligns well with those of the business where Oland's shop is located.
2 sustainable businesses sharing one roof
She shares a roof with Farmer Robert's, a Whitehorse grocery store that puts an emphasis on carrying locally grown produce and other items.
Yukon Chocolate Company is located in a small room in the back corner of the store. The space is tiny and windowless, but what it lacks in light and size it makes up for in smells — specifically that of fresh cocoa beans and handmade chocolate.
Oland says Farmer Robert's owner Robert Ryan has been supportive of her sweet endeavour.
- Sweet. Harvard science says chocolate is still good for the heart.
- Q&A: Why milk chocolate may soon be as healthy as dark chocolate
"He was kind enough to build me a beautiful chocolate closet," she said. "It's a little tight, kind of just me and my cacao ... it's all we've got room for."
It's not just the chocolate that is local when it comes to the Yukon Chocolate Company.
Chocolates get artistic touch
Yukon artist Lea-Ann McNally worked with Oland and designed a ram that adorns each chocolate bar.
The white chocolate the company carries is also shaped in the form of a bison.
"We call it the albino," said Oland.
Oland got her start making chocolate when she was living in Boston, working for a company called Taza Chocolate. Initially hired as a chocolate maker, soon she was developing products for the company and honing her chocolate recipe skills.
- Cocoa's flavanol richness may slightly drop blood pressure
- Is chocolate really good for you? UBC scientists make new tool to measure antioxidants
While she can't recall a specific moment as a child that she knew she wanted to make chocolate for a living, Oland said desserts were always a big part of her childhood.
"My grandmother was a pastry chef so there was always some kind of sweets in the house. But I actually have a culinary diploma and came late to sweets," said Oland. "I think I'm the first person in my family to go into chocolate."
A sweet love story
Born in Toronto, Oland ended up in Yukon after an invite from an old friend. That old friend is now Oland's fiancé and this summer the two are getting married and building a house, all the while managing a new business.
Oland is now teaching her soon-to-be husband the art of chocolate making, and hopes her product will eventually be available throughout Yukon.
This weekend, she's travelling to Dawson City to introduce the Yukon Chocolate Company to the Klondike region at the Thaw di Gras Spring Carnival.
"We're going to be doing a lot of pop-ups going forward," said Oland. "I love Yukon, I'm not going anywhere."