This week I’ve been doing even more flirting than usual! And you know how I love to flirt! At this very moment, I am licking melted chocolate hazelnut from my fingers. I attended a chocolate tasting last week and I am still eating this chocolate bar…a few bites a day…relishing this exquisite chocolate.

OK, let me put down my chocolate for a few minutes, so I can tell you about this great event with perfect timing–right before Valentine’s Day.

I learned about a lot more than chocolate. I had the pleasure of meeting Joan Coukos Todd, who spoke to us about how she found her calling. I was so inspired. A woman who followed her heart, and her instincts, who now owns one of the most deliciously unique artisan chocolate companies in America, Chocolat Moderne.


choc tasting

Chocolate Tasting at Chocolat Moderne

I know her story will hit a nerve with many of you, as it did with me.

Meet Joan

Joan was a banker and traveled the world for her work.  She loved food and ate in the best restaurants. When Chemical Bank merged with Chase, she knew she wanted out. She wanted to be an entrepreneur, but she didn’t know what line of business to attempt. She traveled to Belgium, tasted some handmade chocolates, bought a few antique chocolate molds, and soon after, followed her heart into the chocolate business.

choc hearts

At first, she kept it small and worked out of her home, as I did when I started Flavors Catering. Several years later, she opened Chocolat Moderne in a loft space in Chelsea. She had never been formally trained and had never owned a business before. But she had drive, and she had passion. And what’s more valuable than that?

I so identified with her. Although I was a trained chef, I had never owned a business either when I opened Flavors in 1982. I  was somewhat naïve, but I was fearless, and so was Joan. Somehow we overcame, and ended up with successful and fulfilling careers doing what we love.

ready to sell

Another thing Joan and I have in common… she loves to play with unusual flavor combinations. She even won the sofi award for Outstanding Chocolate (kind of like the Oscar’s for the culinary world).

Flirty Chocolate Flavors

We tasted 4 different chocolates during the evening; Tangy Tomato, Kashmir Spice, Hazelnut, and La Dolce Grapefruit. My favorite was the Kashmir Spice which was spiked with cardamon, cinnamon and clove.  Now that’s Flirting with Flavors!!!

Joan with her Sofi Award

Joan with her sofi Award

I am in Los Angeles this week, celebrating Valentine’s Day with some of the people I love, but I’m looking forward to another visit to Chocolat Moderne when I return. A few bites a day has made me a very happy woman!!

I wish you all a flirtatious Valentine’s Day filled with love. I won’t be cooking this year, how about you? Write to me and share your Valentine’s meal!!