At The Rust Belt Market: Pete's Chocolate Co.
This weekend, Pete's Chocolate Co. will be selling delicious chocolate treats at the Rust Belt Market. The chocolate company offers a large selection of flavors, including cherry pecan, amaretto and candied ginger.
The Rust Belt Market offers a unique experience for patrons as well as vendors. The new art market is host to more than 60 artists every weekend. Each week, Patch will feature one artist and get a closer view what the heck they do.
Ferndale Patch: Who are you and what do you do?
Pete Steffy: My name is Pete Steffy, and I make things out of chocolate.
I'm 25, I grew up in Royal Oak, and I currently live in Hamtramck. I studied sociology at Oberlin College in Ohio, and since graduating in 2008, I have worked as an English teacher, waiter, jazz musician and full-time AmeriCorps member. I recently finished an AmeriCorps term with Young Detroit Builders, an amazing education and community-building nonprofit organization based in Corktown, and I have since been doing odd jobs for work while dedicating most of my time to my passions: chocolate and music.
Pete's Chocolate Co. is still more of a hobby than a business at this point in time, but I hope to continue expanding and eventually open a storefront in Detroit or Hamtramck.
I specialize in making hand-rolled truffles, a style that is not very common among modern American chocolatiers, but you will also see me selling molded and dipped hard-shell truffles, chocolate bars and hot chocolate.
Ferndale Patch: What dates will you be at Rust Belt?
Steffy: My first day at Rust Belt will be Sunday, July 10. After that, I plan on making regular appearances both on Saturdays and Sundays but have no more dates confirmed as of yet.
Ferndale Patch: How did you get your start?
Steffy: In the spring of 2009, while working as an English teacher in the small southern Mexican city of San Cristobal de las Casas, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a private class with an exceptional chocolatier named Iván Arce.
Cooking has long been a passion of mine, and I took the class for fun, hoping just to pick up a few tricks and add chocolate to the arsenal of things I know a little bit about how to prepare. I found working with chocolate to be so much fun, however, that I kept doing it — first just giving boxes to friends and family, eventually starting to sell boxes to friends to give to their friends, then selling more boxes to those people to give to their friends, and so on.
Over the past two years, my business has grown, filling the void of artisan chocolatiers in Detroit and the near suburbs, and I have continually worked on developing and perfecting a set of recipes for both classic and experimental flavors.
I have continued my education by studying chocolate at the Schoolcraft College Culinary School and with the ever-useful method of trying to eat as much interesting chocolate from all over the world as I possibly can — always taking notes, of course!
Ferndale Patch: What inspires you?
Steffy: Cooking, eating, art, music, people who do things that they love. In the context of my business, I am especially inspired by the ever-growing community of wonderful and talented food entrepreneurs in Detroit.
Ferndale Patch: What is it about the Rust Belt that attracted you to it?
Steffy: I've been to a lot of different markets before, and when I entered Rust Belt, for the first time I was struck by how much cool, interesting and unique stuff people had for sale there. It truly seems to be a community of artists and vendors who love what they do and do it well, and a place that attracts customers who share the same values and interests.
I love what I do, I'm excited to share it with the Rust Belt community, and even though I'm unique in being one of only a handful of food vendors there, I think that what I have to offer will fit right in.
Ferndale Patch: Tell us one thing about your work that would surprise us.
Steffy: Anybody can be a chocolatier! Although there is certainly quite an art to making good chocolate and an infinite amount to learn, the basic techniques are fairly simple and require almost no specialized equipment. As with cooking in general (and most other art forms, for cooking truly is an art form), it is a matter of having a passion, learning from what you see, experimenting, practicing, practicing, practicing and doing your best to create new and exciting things.
It is also surprising to many people that chocolate itself can have as many diverse tastes as it does. Cacao beans, like wine grapes or coffee beans, are affected not only by how they are processed but by factors like soil and climate. Many Americans are used to chocolate that has been heavily processed to be consistent and overly sweet, and (they) miss out on the amazing complexity of flavor that chocolate can have.
Pete's Chocolate Co. will be at Rust Belt Market on Sunday. You can also place orders at his website: peteschocolate.com.
The Rust Belt Market is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.