The locally produced food scene just got sweeter this week.
A new chocolaterie, Kathryn Taylor Chocolates, opened this month in the Eastsound Square. Ted and Susan Aspinall have created an intimate space where one can savor hand-made chocolates – many using local ingredients – pastries, espressos, tea, or chocolate beverages such as champurrado or nina.
Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes, and the need here was to create a life where profession and family were more integrated than they had been previously. “When Ted cooked before,” explained Susan, “we’d never see him. Now, with the shop, we can have breakfast together, and Kathryn [their daughter] can stop by after school.” Sometimes she will linger there for a while, inspecting customers through the finger hole which opens the case from the back.
As they have integrated work and family life, so have they integrated work and island life. Some of their chocolates are made with island products such as plums from Emily Reid’s orchard, pears from Black Dog Farm, rhubarb from Olga, and strawberries from the Saturday Market in Eastsound. They use the freshest ingredients they can find and do not use preservatives.
Working in kitchens is nothing new for Ted, though this may be smallest one in which he has worked. Cooking professionally for over 25 years, Ted was the executive chef at Rosario Resort, the Seattle Yacht Club and the Sunset Club in Seattle, and a chef de partie at the Four Seasons in Seattle.
So, why a chocolate shop? According to their website, during his years as a professional culinary artist, Ted was “playing in chocolate all of that time.” And according to Susan, “He likes variety.” In this shop he gets to experiment with the complexities of both the production and presentation of chocolate.
Ted explains how complicated cocoa is, how each person perceives its flavors differently, and how the characteristics of beans from different places vary tremendously. (Their cocoa beans mostly come from the Caribbean and Madagascar.)
Susan smiles about the enhancement of their family life and the newness of the adventure. “We usually have breakfast at that table in the morning,” she says, pointing to a table in the corner. “The first time that someone else sat at that table, Kathryn said, ‘Mommy it’s okay that someone is at our table.’
“It’s nice for me to see Ted a bit more out in the open, up front. At his other jobs, he’s always been in the back, cooking.” And about the shop, she says, “It’s nice to see people sitting down together. A group of ladies came in and ordered tea, and it was so nice to see them sitting down with each other and enjoying themselves. It was an unexpected pleasure.”