‘Old World’ Belgian chocolate at Chocodiem in Clinton

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, we’ve all got chocolate on the brain.

However, Jean-Paul Hepp, founder and co-owner of Chocodiem, and Katherine MacDonnell, creative director of the Belgium artisan chocolate local chain, are thinking fine chocolates every day of the year.

The company’s high-end “Old World” Belgian chocolates are hand-made from locally sourced, fresh ingredients from farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey when possible.

With items such as red wine truffles using Tolino Vineyards cabernet sauvignon ($42 for 12), craft beer truffles infused with cacao porter from Shawnee Brewery ($2.40 per piece) and espresso truffles made with Fieldstone’s Kickin Goat espresso ($2.20 per piece), it’s impossible not to taste the difference.

Courtesy of Chocodiem

“This is not something that’s mass-produced,” said MacDonnell. “These are freshly made and finished and highly customizable. We don’t even allow them to sit for more than two weeks.”

To take their customizable treats to the next level, Chocodiem has implemented the first 3D chocolate printer in the United States, which can print the simplest designs, started at $7, to more intricate designs at $25 to $30, making for a unique Valentine’s Day surprise or way to create goodies with any logo or wedding theme.

“In Europe, they are much more liberal with food and chocolate,” said Hepp, who is a native of Belgium. “My daughter (and co-owner and founder), Eveline, and I were already speaking about using a 3D chocolate printer six or seven years ago, but we had to go and find one in England because there are none here.”

Courtesy of Chocodiem

For Valentine’s Day, besides items already mentioned, Chocodiem will offer champagne truffles with Veuve Clicquot champagne ($2.75 per piece), their 9- or 12-piece signature gift box that features a new set of hand painted designs by local artists ($25 and $35, respectively) and customized truffles (generally between $5 and $10 extra) that can also come with a customized card as well as other items.

Hepp, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 23 years before founding Chocodiem, obtained a degree in ecology in Belgium at the University Antwerp alongside his daughter. After a long career in corporate, he decided it was time for a change.

“I have a sweet tooth and I love quality chocolates. When I moved here in 1997, I couldn’t find what I loved from Belgium,” Hepp said. “I didn’t want to go back to my corporate job and I’m used to customer service, so my daughter and I took classes and learned the chocolate business from scratch.”

Chocodiem opened its doors in Clinton in 2012, and in 2016, it was recognized as one of the Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America by Dessert Professional Magazine in association with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.

Courtesy of Chocodiem

As a former Somerset County resident, Hepp was familiar with Clinton through day trips, and “as a European, I fell in love with this quaint and beautiful location. I lived upstairs from my first shop and I could see the Red Mill Museum. I was so happy.”

Today, Hepp lives in Easton, where the second and flagship location of Chocodiem calls home inside the Easton Public Market, and he splits his time between that shop and the Clinton shop.

MacDonnell, who lives in Annandale and joined the team in 2013, does the same. A third location is slotted to open in Philadelphia on Memorial Day weekend.

“Since I worked for Neiman Marcus, I have a lot of experience with luxury brands and I was able to bring that to chocolate,” said MacDonnell. “Our chocolates at Chocodiem look good, taste good and make our customers feel good.”

Chocodiem

Where: 12 Lower Center St, Clinton

Contact: 908-200-7044, chocodiem.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s