Kohler: How a plumbing company started making gourmet chocolates
From faucets to ganache.
It’s no secret that Herb Kohler expects the best. Anyone who’s ever used one of his company’s Kohler toilets or washed their hands under a Kohler faucet knows they’re made with only the finest materials and the most outstanding craftsmanship. They’ve also probably noticed that, for a plumbing fixture, Kohler toilets and Kohler faucets are works of art.
So while it may seem like a surprise that a plumbing company got into the candy making business, the fact that Kohler makes outstanding handmade chocolates with only the finest ingredients shouldn’t be.
As the story goes, Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates all started when Herb Kohler wanted a really good chocolate “turtle.” Alas, he could not find a mix of chocolate, pecans and caramels to satisfy his extremely high standards. And so, he asked the chefs at The American Club Resort — which Kohler owns and is located in Kohler, Wis. — to create one that even he would approve of. Legend has it, the chefs went through hundreds of batches, but eventually they got it just right, and created what is now the Kohler Chocolate’s Terrapins: “a blend of chocolate, salted pecans and smoky, burnt caramel.” And thus, in 2007 Kohler Original Recipes Chocolates was born. Since then, the company has expanded its Terrapin line to include blackstrap, java and cranberry flavors
Not a company to be limited though, Kohler Chocolates has also since created dozens of amazingly delectable confections, such as their unique line of Garden Ganache, inspired by garden varietals. The hand-painted milk chocolates come in raspberry, crème fraîche, pear, coconut, hazelnut coffee, macadamia, earl grey, chai tea, Asian spice and passion fruit.
There’s also a collection of Rare Facets, which look like gems, and are made with 63 percent dark chocolate paired with six flavors, including: pineapple, sour cherry, cranberry raspberry, blueberry, mandarin ginger and pomegranate. Another signature product is their Valentine’s Day hearts, sold only in February; they are beautiful red, hand-painted hearts made with milk chocolate and filled with champagne.
Chef Anette Righi DeFendi, lead chocolatier.
All told, Kohler offers 11 lines of chocolates now, and about 55 different varieties. And each flavor is still approved by Herb Kohler directly.
Every single piece is handmade at the Craverie Chocolatier Café, a charming 1,200-sq.-ft. cafe in Kohler, Wis. just minutes from the Kohler factory and The American Club. The French café-style restaurant serves fresh soups, breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, ice cream, sorbets and other fine desserts.
Meanwhile, the confections are made in an open-air production kitchen by Chef Anette Righi, the lead chocolatier.
“Whenever I say where I work people get a kick out of it, “You know, Kohler, like the toilet company?’” she explains. “Then they want to hear about everything that we do. It’s a real draw.”
As of right now, many of the chocolates are sold through the cafe, the website and the company’s hospitality department. However, they’re also building up their sales in other locations, such as retail locations and the plan is to continue to expand that side of the business.
Seeing as how the confections are made with the highest quality that anyone purchasing something with the Kohler seal on it would expect, it shouldn’t betoo hard to do just that. Especially given that fact that everyone already knows and trusts the Kohler name — even if it is for their plumbing needs.