As a savory chef turned chocolatier, Chris Kollar understands the nuances of integrating flavors - a skill that blends in perfectly in Napa Valley's fine wine and food culture.
From classic European-style chocolates to new world flavors, Naomi Pasztor and Chris Kollar have brought a taste of something new to Yountville in the heart of Napa Valley, Calif. Surrounded by wineries and world-renowned restaurants, a visit to Kollar Chocolates perfectly rounds out the Napa gourmet experience.
Artisan Chocolatier Kollar welcomes customers to watch and learn about quality handmade chocolate through a glass show kitchen, where he produces his small batch confections.
On the other side of the glass, Naomi Pasztor manages the front of the shop, offering prepackaged and to-order chocolates, gelato, and espresso coffee.
Trained as a chef, Kollar worked in kitchens across the country and beyond for the past 19 years. As a self-taught chocolatier, Kollar traveled Europe extensively – particularly Switzerland, France, and Italy – to study and learn about classic chocolates.
The Atlanta-born chef eventually settled in the Napa Valley in 2001, where he enhanced his culinary pedigree working at Domaine Chandon, Tra Vigne, Pinot Blanc, and Go Fish. It was at Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga, Calif., where he was executive chef, that his passion for chocolate flourished.
In May 2011, Kollar opened Kollar Chocolates to showcase his modern approach to chocolate-making, one that uses numerous colors to give an exciting design to his truffles as well as reflect the flavor in the look of the chocolate.
His use of savory ingredients, originating from his cooking background, has inspired unique as well as classic flavor profiles, such as his signature “Poppy Saffron Bar” and “Fennel Pollen Truffle.”
Known for his truly smooth caramels, Kollar also takes advantage of the terroir by producing red wine chocolates.
Kollar’s penchant for design also extends through the shop’s interior, which was conceived by ADF4 Design and Baseline Developments. Conscious of the desire to a create this modern and European-influenced chocolate shop, the design-and-build team aimed for a unique experience, one where industrial meets natural.
As a result, Kollar Chocolates stands out with extraordinary details and an unforgettable “chocolate bar wall.” Not surprisingly, the venue also doubles as a great place to hold private events.
Always ready to talk and teach about chocolate, Chris Kollar not only loves to make fine chocolates, he enjoys discussing and teaching about them, be it to entertain customers in the store or in formal chocolate workshops on or off the premises.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
A pro soccer player.
Name one of your favorite movies.
Goodfellas, The Outsiders and Victory
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
A food trip around the world. Stopping in small towns, big cities, and villages and tasting local, traditional and untraditional food.
What book are you currently reading?
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
My business partner, Naomi Pasztor.
What is your pet peeve?
People who are late
I’d give anything to meet:
A good therapist
The best piece of advice I’ve received:
“Work smarter not harder”
What excites you most about your job?
The chocolates I make and the whole concept of the shop makes people happy and that drives me to do better and makes my job more exciting every day.