From Grandma's Recipes to Award-Winning Bars: The Sweet Journey of Chocolat Chocolate

Dustin’s interest in making chocolate began after he discovered his grandmother's boxed chocolate candy recipes. He wanted to add his touch to her candies by creating his own chocolate to complement them. After teaching himself how to make chocolate, he fell in love with bean-to-bar chocolate and the whole process of producing them. After starting his candy company, another opportunity in the form of a chocolate inn came his way and his chocolate making had to take a back seat for several years while the inn was being built.

The first batch of chocolate Dustin made was actually the first time he had tried craft chocolate. He was experimenting with coating candies but he also made some chocolate bars to try. He remembered using Ghana as he liked the fudgy flavor to complement the candies. He shared his first batch with family and friends who were trying craft chocolate for the first time. Everyone enjoyed the chocolate and over time, his chocolate got better.

Both he and his wife Mai own and run the Chocolat Inn & Café in Beattyville, KY. The café serves Mai's pastries along with Dustin's coffee and chocolate, and is connected to a modern bed and breakfast inn.

Once renovations for the inn and café were completed and the pandemic was in check, Dustin could get back to his passion – chocolate! He began creating new recipes and developing unique packaging for his treats. He even created the Craft Chocolat Challenge, an international bean-to-bar chocolate competition geared towards providing feedback to up-and-coming chocolate makers, much like himself.

Through Dustin's efforts of perfecting his art, his chocolate making process started getting noticed and also winning awards. He still creates seasonal boxed chocolates but he is focused on creating an experience through craft chocolate bars. He has several different origins and percentages so everyone can find their favorite bar.

We asked Dustin what his fondest memories were about making chocolate and he replied, “I remember using my Specta 11 in the kitchen of my small house. I had to let it run while I slept and it was not enjoyable. I remember waking up in the middle of the night once to a broken belt and the machine not turning. The following day was also a nightmare remelting that chocolate to be able to start the process again...I asked myself, why am I doing this? That memory inspires me to keep growing as from then, I have taught an entire small town Eastern Kentucky community about what craft chocolate is and that is exciting!

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