by jill sieracki | February 3, 2014 | People
Marina Chiasson may sample her recipes for breakfast, a sweet start to a day spent in the test kitchen.
“I can eat chocolate any time of day,” says Marina Chiasson, founder of Aspen Fine Chocolates, a locally made luxury truffle purveyor debuting this winter. “I could wake up and have chocolate for breakfast, but I only have it alone; I wouldn’t [blend it] with anything else. I’ll have it as a sweet bite after lunch or a little snack, and I love all types and flavors.”
Chiasson’s mother, Pamela, a Switzerland native, introduced the budding chocolatier to the sweet treats during family ski trips overseas. “The first place we’d always stop when in the Zurich airport was Confiserie Sprüngli, and we’d get the truffles du jour,” recalls Chiasson. “That chocolate always brings me back to that period of my life, those happy memories. My parents still send us boxes, and each chocolate [reminds me of] a different childhood memory.”
To re-create those mouthwatering moments she had at chocolate shops near the slopes of St. Moritz, Chiasson launched Aspen Fine Chocolates, which will sell traditional European-style truffles online; she also plans to create custom favor boxes laden with heavenly morsels for special events, including weddings.
“I’m trying to incorporate as many local Colorado ingredients as possible, whether it’s local cherry, peach infusions, or an amazing goat cheese that we have here. I’m still developing those signature flavors, but using Aspen-specific ingredients is an important part of what I’m trying to do,” she says. “I felt there was a void in Aspen in terms of having that high-end, luxury [chocolate] shop where you can take the experience of your ski vacation home with you or pass along to friends.”
A former captain of her Division I ski team for St. Lawrence University in Upstate New York, Chiasson was drawn to Aspen four years ago for the slopes. Here, she coached the Alpine J5 program at the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, worked in marketing at Plum TV, then as director of membership and events at Casa Tua Aspen. Last December, Chiasson got her master chocolatier certification online via the Ecole Chocolat before devoting herself full-time to her new enterprise. “[It’s] an intense course where you learn everything from how to run a small business to the history of chocolate,” says Chiasson, who recently completed an internship with master chocolatier Jacques Torres. “To learn so much about a product I already loved was really fun.”
Today, Chiasson finds herself with no shortage of volunteers willing to taste-test her confections. “Everyone is excited to try the new flavors, but it’s a slippery slope—I have to be careful where I keep them, because it’s easy to overindulge,” she says of her rich treats, which range from a dark 70 percent cocoa morsel to a green tea–infused truffle. “Being in such a small town, it’s nice to have so much support and encouragement from people here.”
photography by david clifford