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Sarasota Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009 8 years ago

Sweet Gigs: Hot for chocolate

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

Unless you’re prepared for a chocolate addiction so extreme you’ll fantasize about crunching on chocolate brownie-batter bark, artisan truffles and even chocolate-bark pizza, keep your distance from Sarasota chocolatier Kellie Kamm.

The workaholic, chocoholic and owner of Chocolate, Nuts and More got her start in the chocolate business in 1998 when she opened “Simply Chocolate” on Osprey Avenue. She has since converted 65% of her customers from milk-chocolate-lovers to dark-chocolate-lovers.

Kamm uses high-end Callebaut Belgian chocolate to produce nearly 50 varieties of chocolate bark.
Although her vision was to open and grow a big business, the economic downturn slightly altered her plans, forcing her to open a small business with a narrow market.

“In a down economy, you figure out what you do best,” Kamm said. “I think that’s how most companies succeed. A narrow market means you can focus more to become a standout and the top dog, so to speak.
We’ve declared our market, and that’s chocolate bark.”

Chocolate, Nuts and More will celebrate its sixth anniversary next week in its Gulf Gate location.

“We do it like no one else has done it,” Kamm said. “Orange-cranberry bark is one of my favorites. And very dark chili-pepper bark. And extra dark cocoa-nib bark. My God, they’re all good. They really are.”

When contemplating what makes owning a chocolate shop so extraordinary and special, her answer is simple: It’s her passion and an environment in which she thrives. She can’t think of doing anything else.

Kamm’s favorite part of the business is making the chocolate. Her employees say their favorite part is eating the chocolate and the cheerful customers who stop in to buy the chocolate, because rarely are chocoholics in a foul mood.

“I’m particularly enchanted with the idea of making something,” Kamm said. “What I love about making chocolate is that, at the end of the day, I can look at what I’ve done today. It’s right there, and it’s a tangible product that gives me great pride and satisfaction.”

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