More than 20 years ago, Larry Burdick came back from Switzerland with a chocolate pot, a set of “guitars” for cutting shapes, dipping forks, and one radical idea. He wanted to make chocolate confections that could truly be called chocolate.
There was, of course, no shortage of candies – products whose sugar content far outweighed its cocoa content. But Larry had something different in mind: He wanted to make bonbons that qualified as chocolate products rather than sugar products. He’d start from blocks of dark chocolate from France & Switzerland – low in sugar and rich in flavor – that were essentially unused on these shores and fashion them into an assortment of creations he’d been contemplating for years.
Larry was guided by a gastronomic sensibility cultivated in France and Swiss ingenuity, citing the techniques he picked up during the three years he spent working in Bern, Burgdorf, and Neuchâtel. “They know how to take a cocoa bean and transform it into chocolate, and they know how to take that chocolate and turn it into a bon`bon,” he says. “I take my hat off to the Swiss people for taking the time to do things right.”
When it comes to food trades like chocolate-making, wine-making, or cheese-making, the United States doesn’t really have traditions comparable to those found in Europe, which is why he “had to take a trip to learn.” Being an American, however, gave Larry at least one advantage in this field: Beholden to no tradition and unbound to the old rules, he could let his creativity run free.
The strategy has paid off: Larry is widely regarded as a pioneer in America’s high-end chocolate trade, and says of his philosophy “I’ve tried to combine a French gastronomic sensibility with Swiss know-how, and American imagination.”