Thursday, 1 August 2013

Pretty Eats: Emma Smith of Zimt Artisan Chocolates

After trying a delicious chocolate bar from Whole Foods, and coming away quite satisfied and impressed, our food columnist AngieAdventure wanted to know more. She reached out to vegan, raw food chocolatier, Emma Smith of Zimt Artisan Chocolates, and on a sunshiny Vancouver day, AngieAdventure met up with the energetic and amazing Emma for a chat on raw chocolate, inspiration, and her humble beginnings selling decadent sweets out of a barn.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to become?
When I was little, I wanted to become a brain surgeon for quite some time and I would study the brain and map out different areas. I got a 3-D model of it and I would build it and all that sort of normal stuff for a six year old! And then I wanted to become a business woman. I didn't really know what that meant, I just knew it could mean a lot of different things and it might get me a really cush life one day, you know, which sounded really fun! And for a little bit, I thought I wanted to become and anesthesiologist but when I realized how much school went into that and how much I didn't like school, it was kinda like 'this doesn't really work!' so yeah, I just stuck to crazy entrepreneur! It's goin' alright!

Awesome! Where'd you get the inspiration to start making chocolate?
I would say it was mostly from when I was back-packing across Europe, because there's a lot of raw chocolate in Europe, and I mean I've never been to New York (I really want to go!), but I know in New York and in other larger cities, raw food and raw chocolate are kind of a big deal, and everyone's into them. I just thought, 'well why isn't there more in Vancouver yet?' I was into raw food and I started to learn a little more about raw foods and I just thought, oh, you know what? Raw chocolate! Everybody likes chocolate, I like chocolate, I could bring people chocolates! (laughs)

And you had a really cool start! Didn't you start selling out of a barn?!
Yeah I did! My Mom two summers ago was like, "Oh, we should sell from the Southlands Farmer's Market!" And I was like, "Aw…okay…are you sure that's the appropriate avenue for my chocolate?" And she said, "Oh, it'll be really nice, the community down there, they really appreciate local and finer products, it'll be so good!" So I was like, "Okay!" This was before I had a kitchen, before I had any idea what I was doing. I had just written my final exams. I remember I made a toooooon of chocolate, like a ton of chocolate - in my home kitchen. I remember it was kind of a rainy gross day, and I trucked all this chocolate down to this barn in Southlands and set up and I was just sitting there and my Grandma came in to visit with my Aunt. The look on my Grandma's face was just priceless, just like, omg I can't believe my little granddaughter who just graduated from fancy-pants business school is in a barn selling this chocolate. And there's horses and it stinks in here, all that sort of stuff! Yeah, but it was fun and I still keep in touch with the Southlands people and my chocolate is down there now, just not in a barn! It's presented a lot more, um, in a much more appetizing setting. It's nice to keep in touch with local because I grew up around there too.

Do you ever have chocolate binge fests?
Um, did I just have a chocolate binge fest? Yes! I sure did! (laughs) Yeah, I do that quite a bit, you'd think I'd be sick of it, but I'm just not.

But you're so skinny! How do you stay fit?
I try to work out every morning. My boyfriend makes fun of my workouts - he says they are not workouts! I think if you get kind of sweaty, it counts as a workout! Haha, I just sit in the sauna! No, no I workout...I guess I eat really clean too.

And you're vegan…
Oh yeah, but I didn't go vegan for any sort of health reasons or to lose weight, it's always just ethics, that's it.

What are your future plans?
I really just want to get Zimt to a level where I'm really happy with it, and keep it going and growing, and to be able to provide really well for my loved ones - that's my main goal.

Do you think you'll run Zimt forever?
I would always love to be involved in Zimt, in different ways than I am now. I would love to connect more to the farmers who harvest the cacao and the other ingredients, and travel more and expand product lines. That's what I really love doing. I get bored and I can't help it, I have to just make a bunch of new stuff. The bars are fun but then there's the sauces, cookie dough cups, cakes...

Are you going to sell in Toronto?
Yeah, I would love to! It should be within the next month and a half that there's more there! This is what I'm hoping! I can't promise anything! And I would love to go back to Toronto and hang out there a little bit more. See my friend and eat some more of their tasty vegan food. It's so good! Vegetarian Haven, that's a good place to go, and then there's Hogtown Vegan. Oh, it was really good!

Is there anything random you like to put chocolate in?
Chocolate in chili is a good idea, it really brings out the flavours. I would basically put chocolate in anything to be honest with you. My boyfriend makes amazing banana soft serve, and we put anything we have around in that. Soooo good. Oh and in oatmeal its good. Oh oh and if you cut a banana in half and put some chocolate bits in there and then wrap it in tinfoil and then bake it, Mmmmmm, I recommend it!

The End!

Top cake photo by Madeleine Althammer.
All other images and interview by AngieAdventure.
Zimt is raw, orgainic, vegan and fair trade.