St. Thomas is officially the home of internationally recognized chocolate.
On November 17, the winners of the 2018 International Chocolate Awards were announced in Florence, Italy. Genevieve Scarfone of Seed Confections (located on the corner of Ross and Erie) submitted two chocolates to the World Finals after finding out that they won nationally. She learned recently that her cranberry sage bonbon won bronze in its category internationally.
Passionate about offering unique products that you won’t find anywhere else, Genevieve created the cranberry sage bonbon because she wanted to make something that reminded people of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Playing on savoury flavour associations, the bonbon has cranberry jam with a milk chocolate shell that cuts the tartness of the cranberry. Sage is present as well, which is technically neither sweet nor savoury but reminiscent of the classic turkey dinner. The expert combination of flavours has placed Seed Confections among some of the world’s best chocolate companies.
This artisan chocolate and confection company began two years ago out of Genevieve’s home, where she made the chocolates, posted them for sale on Facebook, and then delivered them herself. Seed Confections has grown into its own shop at 159 Ross Street, which is open three days a week. Genevieve and several part time employees keep busy creating luxury chocolates, custom designed cookies, and their famous French macarons.
What sets Seed Confections apart as a chocolate company is more than their unique products, however. Quality of ingredients is a huge factor in the making of these chocolates. Genevieve works with several local businesses, such as Infuzed Tz, and has done extensive research to find the best cocoa manufacturers. “I work with really good quality chocolate from manufacturers that I trust – the highest quality I can get my hands on. I don’t buy cheap chocolate,” she says.
As a small batch chocolatier, Genevieve creates bonbons that are all unique because the flavour profile is affected by factors such as what’s in the soil and how much rain the farm got that year. “I have chocolates that are super fruity because they’re grown next to a banana plantation, and it’s delicious.” That effect is lost with big chocolate manufacturers such as Hershey or Nestle, who mix cocoa beans from different farms and artificially alter the flavour profile so that it tastes exactly the same each time.
An added bonus to working with high quality manufacturers is that they are transparent about where their cocoa beans come from – an important detail from a human rights standpoint. The cocoa industry has long been an unethical one, involving the worst forms of child labour, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. “I’ve done my research,” Genevieve says. “It’s terrible.” She is committed to working with companies who are adamant about not using child workers and paying people a fair wage for their work – “Who have said, ‘we’re going out of our way to change what’s happening in our industry.'”
“If you come in and eat one of my chocolates, I know which country the bean is from. There are some that I know which farms they are from.” –Genevieve Scarfone
Genevieve’s passion for chocolate making is another factor that contributes to her award-winning products, despite landing in the industry by fluke. Trained in culinary and with experience in pastry, she applied to many different positions after school, including a chocolate shop near her home in Vancouver. “I got the job and I absolutely fell in love with it,” Genevieve says. “It is scientific and complex and you have to have an eye for art and detail.” Eight years later, she is still making chocolates and loves developing recipes and finding the perfect balance of science, art, and flavour.
Seed Confections will soon ship their products across Canada with an online store. Currently, the retail store is open Thursday to Saturday, though hours will be extended to accommodate Christmas – a big chocolate holiday. Check out Seed Confections online or visit them at 159 Ross Street to try their internationally award-winning chocolate yourself!