We love collaborating with local artists. Especially when their products are high-quality, original, and utterly irresistible. So it’s with great excitement and a little bit of mouthwatering that we welcome JP’s own Kymberlee Keckler into the Jamaica Plain gallery this June. To celebrate First Thursday on June 4, we’ll be hosting Kymberlee and her exquisite handmade artisan chocolates for a grand tasting and chocolate making demonstration. In anticipation of this event, we were able to do a great mini-interview with Kymberlee about her life as a chocolatier, maker, and artist in Jamaica Plain. Give it a quick read and join us in store for a delicious evening!
Fire Opal: How long have you been making chocolate?
Kymberlee Keckler: I’ve been making chocolates since 2011, but I didn’t always know what I was doing in the early days. I enrolled in training as a professional chocolatier through Ecole Chocolat in Vancouver, BC and graduated in November 2012. In April 2014, I attended Valrhona’s Ecole du Grand Chocolat in Tain L’Hermitage, France. And just this past April, I attended more master classes at ICAM in Lecco, Italy. I plan to return to France in October 2016.
FO: We know you also make beautiful soap – how do you balance the two?
KK: One good thing about soap is that the older it is, the better it is – so I am able to make soap during times of slower chocolate sales. Chocolate sales peak around certain holidays and is generally slower in the summer. I like making soap in the summer because my ‘soap factory’ is in the basement where it is cooler. I’ve discontinued some scents to free up some time for chocolate making. A person can spend $30 on soap and have enough for a year or so….but if they spend that on chocolates, they can eat them and come back the next day.
FO: What do you love about being an artist in Jamaica Plain?
KK: I love JP’s commitment to the arts, the diversity in our neighborhood, and the sense of community.
FO: What’s your favorite kind of chocolate?
KK: Tough question – and one that I get a lot. The base chocolate that I use is Valrhona’s Manjari. There aren’t any that I don’t like and wouldn’t sell them unless they met my standards. My favorite flavors include passion fruit, hazelnut, and earl grey tea. I also love my raspberry hazelnut crisp, hazelnut coconut, and espresso. I’m always experimenting…and will be headed to the kitchen very soon!