The Chocolate Fetish has a variety of gifts for the holiday.

Co-owner of The Chocolate Fetish

Interviewed by Dennis Ray

Rapid River Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your holiday gift items now available at The Chocolate Fetish.

Bill Foley: We have a wide variety of items including hand molded three dimensional holiday figures and lots of festive gift boxes. We’ve added Santa’s Boot’s and Chocolate Dreidels both decorated by hand with colored cocoa butter in a variety of unique designs.

I’m excited about our seasonal flavors! This year we added our classic Holiday Gingerbread Truffle and our brand new Eggnog Truffle. The Eggnog Truffle is made with fresh Eggnog produced on a 7th generation family farm here in North Carolina. A White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Round and Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl Round are holiday specials.

RRM: What perception of chocolate do you view as being the most inaccurate?

BF: Many people have the perception that high cocoa content dark chocolate is better chocolate. This is inaccurate and somewhat akin to saying the stronger the drink the better. If that were true more people would be drinking moonshine. While one’s personal preference might be a darker chocolate it doesn’t mean that the higher the cocoa content the better.

Many things determine the quality of the chocolate, from the quality of the bean, what variety, how it is grown to how it is processed from the bean into the finished chocolate. You can have a very high percentage dark chocolate from a poor quality bean and it isn’t going to be a high quality chocolate. You’ll just have a high percentage of poor quality.

RRM: Can you tell me what a single origin chocolate is?

BF: A single origin chocolate is a chocolate that is made from a single harvest of beans grown on one farm. Cocoa beans are very much like wine in that there are subtle differences in flavor based on type of bean and how and where it was grown. Most chocolates are made from a blend of beans grown in different places and from different kinds of beans. This blending ensures that the taste of the chocolate is sustainable over time and throughout subsequent harvests.

At The Chocolate Fetish we take advantage of the flavor subtleties of many different chocolates including single origin chocolates. We blend all of our chocolates so that our customers get a flavor that is unique to our shop, even to each specific product. They can rely on the consistency and flavor of our truffles.

RRM: Do you see any changes for the Chocolate Fetish in 2013?

BF: We plan on continuing The Chocolate Fetish 25 year tradition of offering handmade high quality chocolates. And we will develop new flavors and explore new products throughout the year, like our new chocolate bars which were recently awarded a gold and bronze medal in a National competition judged by chocolate experts.

RRM: Your business has been well known for its giving back to the Asheville community. What else does The Chocolate Fetish do in terms of helping people?

BF: We’ve been a part of Asheville for years and seen many changes. We’re committed to Asheville’s success and strive to help people in our community in many ways. We also feel that it is important to help the larger world community of which we are a part. Recently we donated over $1,000 (including lots of chocolates) to Rainbow Rapid Response, a grassroots group doing relief work in an area of New Jersey that was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Sandy.

This cause is very personal to us. My wife grew up in New Jersey, and our daughter has worked with many of the people doing this work on a personal basis. This is an amazing group of people from all over the country who are serving over 1,000 meals a day to victims and relief workers in Union Beach, New Jersey. If anyone reading this would like to donate or get involved you can do so at www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSuperSandyResponse. You can also see a local news broadcast about what they are doing at www.abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=8888175

RRM: Do you feel that business owners should be leaders through example in giving, and why?

BF: As the owners of a successful business, Sue, our daughter Elizabeth, and I, feel it a moral obligation to support the community that supports our business. Although we also market on a regional and national level, the local community is where we live and we think it important to set an example. An inspiring example from our business is our long-term relationship with Helpmate.

After years of Helpmate being our primary recipient of charitable giving, our employees decided to join in. Previously we had various holiday gift exchanges going on at work, like secret Santa. A few years ago everyone decided that we would rather bring gifts to give to Helpmate. The response from our employees has always been overwhelming and heartwarming.

RRM: What do you feel is the key ingredient to owning a successful small business today?

BF: Learn how to run a business before you start a business! Go to school and then work for a successful business and learn everything you can, then decide if you have what it takes to run your own business. Establish a sound foundation, then perfect and protect it while you try to grow the business with a well thought out strategy. Fads are tempting to pursue but your investment in them can disappear overnight. Don’t get caught up in a “rain dance.”

RRM: What do you mean by a rain dance?

BF: In a rain dance everyone runs around singing, chanting, beating on drums, and has a good time, but the results are very questionable. Remember one basic fact: for a business to be sustainable it must first make a profit.

RRM: Where do you see the Chocolate Fetish in five years?

BF: The Chocolate Fetish is a manufacturer, direct retailer and multi-channel marketer of high quality, handcrafted artisan chocolate confections, and we intend to continue to grow the company by concentrating on these strengths. We excel in dealing directly with our customers and do not plan to branch out into the broad wholesale arena.

We will continue to grow the business locally, regionally and nationally by continuing to offer our loyal customers the highest quality products and services they have come to expect from The Chocolate Fetish, while attracting new customers with innovative marketing programs and products.

As for exactly where we will be in five years you will need to ask Elizabeth because she and the management team will be running the business. Sue and I plan to retire… some day. It’s hard to give up something you have so much fun doing.

The Chocolate Fetish Inc.
36 Haywood Street
Downtown Asheville
www.chocolatefetish.com
(828) 258-2353