Friday, January 28, 2011

Robin Chocolates (Yum!)

Robin Autorino has a lot to celebrate in February, but she’s not going to have the luxury of taking much time off to do that celebrating. Her business, Robin Chocolates, is bound to keep her busy supplying area sweethearts with chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

Aurorino took a circuitous route to becoming a chocolatier, including a stint in the navy and quite a few years in IT. Her first foray into chocolate was when her son, Nikolas, was young. She helped him make some chocolate-dipped pretzels, which they wrapped up and tied with ribbons and gave as little gifts.

About six years ago, she decided she wasn’t happy in the IT world and signed up for cooking classes that included training in France. Although she was sure she wanted to be a chef, that time in France changed her mind. “I decided I wanted to be on the dessert side of the world,” she said.

After she graduated and before starting her own business, she worked for several well-known local restaurants, but then she started making chocolates at home and bringing them in to work for people to taste.
One day, she decided the time was right and she left the restaurant and launched her chocolate business. Three years ago on February 3, she got an order from a local florist for 12 four-piece boxes of candy, and that was the day Robin Chocolates was born.

It was a risk, but Autorino said that she inherited some of her mom’s determination - mom holds the record for the Ironman Hawaii Triathalon for 70-74 year-olds, and at 81 she still bikes and swims regularly. “Mom is a chocoholic,” Autorino said. “When I started with chocolates, she was really supportive.”

Aurorino said that the first year she was in business, it was very slow, but the second year saw the business double. In the third year, it more than doubled again. She credits part of her success to the fact that she’s always learning about her craft. Although she knows she’s good at what she does, she always asks, “What can I do better?”

Several of her truffles have won awards at chocolate shows, and her business has gotten some impressive media attention. She was recently featured on a Channel 9 News segment and she will be on Fox’s Good Day Colorado at 6:45, 7:45, and 7:45 a.m. on Feb 2.

But Robin Chocolates isn’t a one-gal show.  Autorino’s son, Nik, “will help out in just about any capacity,” she said. Her husband, Chris, helps with design and with her website.

Besides family, she has a number of part-time employees. At the height of chocolate-making during the Christmas rush, she had as many as six people helping her at one time, including her right-hand gal, Gabrielle “Ellie” Strandqueist who is the assistant pastry chef at The Mediterranean in Boulder.

And now Autorino is gearing up for her anniversary celebration on February 3 from 1-4 p.m. when she’ll have “something special” and a gift basket give-away at “her store” inside Cayenne Kitchen in Longmont.

Autorino recently purchased a temperature-controlled display case which is installed inside Cayenne Kitchen, so now customers can choose their own single truffles or fill a box with even more favorites. She considers that case “her store” since it’s the one place where all of her truffle flavors are available.

The celebration continues on Feb. 12, when she will be toasting s’mores at Cayenne. The s’mores will be made with homemade graham crackers and marshmallows, and of course there will be top-quality chocolate. For Valentine’s shoppers, Autorino will have some special items to wow the chocolate-lover in your life.

For more information, see www.robinchocolates.com, email robin@robinchocolates.com or see her chocolates at Cayenne Kitchen, 372 Main St., Longmont.

1 comment:

Robin said...

Oops, the anniversary celebration is on February 3rd from 1-4pm at Cayenne Kitchen!

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