Joanne & Philip DeLoache:
Annapolis has acquired what is probably its first full-fledged chocolate factory. A labor intensive, but sweet venture, DeLoache Chocolate (est. 2004) is the creation of two local entrepreneurs.
Formerly health-care professionals, Joanne and Philip DeLoache first met at the University of Maryland, where she earned a degree in Kinesiology and he earned two Master’s degrees, one in Psychology and one in Business. Originally from Philadelphia, Joanne worked in insurance sales, while Towson-born Philip took his credentials as a clinical psychologist into hospital administration,
They met again when both worked at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore, and after getting married, continued to share careers in the health care field. Years later, they began to explore ways to satisfy what Joanne calls a “strong need to be creative.” Philip had always enjoyed recreational cooking, so they looked for a business idea in downtown Annapolis. Their market analysis revealed a vacuum in the chocolate industry. Joanne recalls that several shops on Main Street carried “tourist chocolate”with Maryland crab designs, labeled, “Made in NJ.” They found gourmet chocolate to be the fastest growing in the industry, and, according to Joanne, they knew of “other chocolatiers who were doing well in the high-end market because what appeals to the customer is the product that is not mass-produced.”
A chocolate factory emerged as the business of choice, for it offered opportunities for creative expression, and the startup costs would be manageable. After mortgaging their house, they leased and equipped a small factory. Philip became the chocolatier and Joanne the office manager and liaison with customers through retail outlets.
True to their professional standards, they sought expertise in the art of making, decorating, and packaging chocolate. In 2002, after graduating from École Chocolate, a professional school of the chocolate arts in Vancouver, BC, Philip spent six months developing a small, square truffle of dark French and Belgian chocolate. During this time, he attended classes at the Confectionary Consultant in Marlton, NJ, where he found “the hands-on experience… particularly useful as was the opportunity to try out equipment and processes related to larger production,”
Philip has become an artisan chocolatier, continuing to hone his skills, emersed in the study and process of making chocolate. The traditional chocolatier creates exotic collections with all natural couverture and fresh cream infused with his signature ingredients. Designed to captivate the palate, artfully-crafted chocolate is produced from select cocoa beans from around the world. Through a distributor, DeLoache imports select raw cocoa beans, cognac, French butter, whole vanilla beans and fresh cream.
At the production core is “Big Red,” a chocolate-making machine manufactured in Canada by a Belgian engineer. “Red” is a first-step machine for small-batch producers. Not automated, it is much smaller than the one featured in the I Love Lucy chocolate factory episode. With “Red,”the labor- intensive process is guided and monitored by hand by Philip and his assistant, Carole Chesser, who first place chocolate truffles on the conveyor grid on the right of “Big Red.” The truffles roll under the hood in the center, are coated by a flowing fountain of French chocolate, emerge to be decorated by hand, move into a cooling tunnel and last, spend 15 minutes in a special refrigerator for chocolate. Truffles are then individually wrapped by part-timers, high school students from Broadneck, Severna Park, and the Harbor School. Joanne describes the wrappers as, “A big family in packaging.”
The truffle Philip developed has become the DeLoache signature piece. It has a soft, cognac-flavored center of Belgian chocolate, with French chocolate on the outside, decorated with hand-applied, iconic cocoa butter designs, many of Maryland crabs and sailboats. Truffles also form design collections, including a freedom collection, winter collection, ladies collection featuring handbags, and a blended box that is a three-tiered cherry wood box containing a pyramid of the ultimate in chocolate truffles, mini-gourmet chocolate bars, and solid chocolate.
Among the DeLoache chocolate bars is the traditional Mendiant, or beggar’s bar, with one almond, one pistachio and one raisin, to which they have added a candied violet imported from France and a dried cherry. There is also a shaved chocolate for drinking: intensely rich, it is best consumed in espresso-sized portions. DeLoache customers can have company logos and personal designs on their truffles, bars, blended boxes, and shaved chocolate.
Designer chocolate is a way to connect a customer and a cause. They get calls for wedding flavors, surprise gifts, corporate awards, special events and fundraisers. Truffles come in the shape of business cards and special awards for customers that include a golf course developer, a brick company, the Academy of Art and Music in Easton, and Towson University.
Commissioned by the Blinded American Vets from DC to do a blended box that was presented at the home of the Director, a Marine veteran, DeLoache has also presented boxes to special hill staffers and Congressional awardees. According to Joanne, “When we do something special for customers, their own designs or logos – it’s all about them, and that’s great.” In addition to commissions, they have won various awards and accolades in the press.
Part of the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) Artisan Boutique at the Sheraton in Annapolis, DeLoache was the chocolate in the Annapolis Arts Alliance Champagne and Chocolate Gala in March of 2005. That same year, they were nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year for the Annapolis and Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Celebration, and at the 5th Annual Bel Air Chocolate Festival, DeLoache was named “Best in Show.”
As customers continue to grow, there is space to expand the factory at the present location, purchase product directly, and retire “Big Red”for an automated version, á la I Love Lucy.
DeLoache Chocolate is available in specialty stores, including Palate Pleasers, Ilaria Gourmet, Annebeths, and the Historic Annapolis Foundation Museum Store. For a free sample, visitors are welcome to drop by the factory at 1981 Moreland Parkway. Not a retail space, it is best to call ahead: 410-268-8100.
Among the DeLoache chocolate bars is the traditional Mendiant, or beggar’s bar, with one almond, one pistachio and one raisin, to which they have added a candied violet imported from France and a dried cherry. There is also a shaved chocolate for drinking: intensely rich, it is best consumed in espresso-sized portions.
DeLoache customers can have company logos and personal designs on their truffles, bars, blended boxes, and shaved chocolate.