Landing Michigan's newest chocolate beachhead
October 28, 2009
In establishing the first Jacques Torres Chocolate retail store “outside New York City,” locating it in Traverse City, Mich., Kris Kruid continues to trail-blaze within the confectionery sector. When she started Jacques Torres Chocolate, MrChocolate.com LLC, nearly 10 years ago with celebrated pastry chef Jacques Torres and sous chef Ken Goto - both of whom worked at the famous Le Cirque restaurant in New York City - Kruid helped build a fledging dream into a world-renown enterprise.
“We each came to the table with our retirement savings, and the adventure began in December of 2000,” she says. That decision led to the successful opening of the company’s first store in Brooklyn, N.Y., (See Candy Industry, June 2004) and, eventually, a wholesale operation - Jacque Torres Chocolate Haven - located on the upper east side of New York (See Candy Industry, August 2007).
The decision to leave New York City and breathe in some country air led Kruid to northern Michigan. The move also enabled her to set up shop in the tourist town, where she “designed, opened and now operates the company’s first ‘franchise’ model.”
Kruid also has opened a new company, Wealth of Knowledge Consulting, which offers business consulting services.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I was quite certain I would be a veterinarian when I grew up. I’ve always had animals, but will admit the time in New York City made that more challenging. Now I have 80 acres, a black lab that is constantly in the pond and a horse that rivals Mr. Ed with his communication skills.
Name one or some of your favorite movies.
“Gandhi,” “The Elephant Man,” “Gone with the Wind” and “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off” - all really great stories with fascinating people who did things a little left of center.
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
Next month I leave for the Galapagos Islands - a place that has been on my dream list for quite a while. I suspect the experience will end up being like my dream vacation to Costa Rica - lots of great wildlife, not many people, a tremendous learning opportunity. I find putting myself deeper into the food chain really enhances my priorities in life.
What book are you currently reading?
I just finished “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, my newest most favorite book. I am now reading “Galapagos, A Natural History” by Michael H. Jackson in anticipation of my next trip.
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
A few years back, I had the opportunity to travel with Howard Yana Shapiro - one of the world’s leading experts in our industry [Shapiro is the global director of plant science and external research, Mars, Inc.] and in global sustainable agriculture. He is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, has a big fun meter, knows how to appreciate people and local communities, and will be able to either grow any food I could possibly desire or at least identify what’s on the deserted island that might kill us.
What’s your pet peeve?
I’d give anything to meet:
I am the luckiest woman on the planet, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting some pretty amazing characters in this life: Mohammed Ali, Julia Child, Frank Geary, Sting, Bill Clinton and Paul Bocuse, to name a few. I hope I will meet many more interesting people of my time, but I realize there are some people I will not be able to meet because they have already passed away. On that list, Jacques Cousteau - would really like a dinner conversation with him.
The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
Carry water, and make your grass green where you are standing.
What excites you most about your job?
I’m now in a position to help a lot of other people with their businesses. That is very rewarding for me. I wish I would have had someone to whom I could have posed questions when I was just starting. So now I try to be that resource for anyone who can gain insights from anything I have learned along the way.