Poco Dolce's founder Kathy Wiley grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, developing her love for all things culinary. At an early age, she was able to accompany her father on frequent trips to San Francisco where Wiley learned about the city's vast culinary environment, and explored the amazing and innovative new restaurants that had just begun to flourish. It was through these trips that she began to realize she loved food and specifically had a palate for savory foods.
That exposure played a role in her moving to San Francisco for college and — after graduation — moved to London to help open a cafe in Hampstead.
After the cafe was established, Wiley returned to San Francisco and began planning her own business while working as a chef at Val21.
She started baking in 2002, specializing in regional Italian cookies and pastries.The goal was to have just enough sugar to bring out the flavors, not to overwhelm them; hence the name Poco Dolce, which translates from Italian as "little sweet" or "not too sweet."
Within a year, Wiley had discovered a passion for creating handmade chocolates and confections on the "savory side of sweet." She took her predilection toward savory foods and applied it to her new love by sprinkling just a pinch of grey sea salt on some bittersweet chocolate. Poco Dolce's Bittersweet Chocolate Tiles were born.
"At a certain point, it all becomes clear and you know exactly where you're meant to be," Wiley says. Poco Dolce's products are all handmade in San Francisco and feature only the finest all-natural ingredients — from California butter and olive oil to sea salt harvested from the coast of Brittany.
The company's products can be found at gourmet and specialty shops around the country, at its Dogpatch production kitchen in San Francisco and online at pocodolce.com.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Chocolate sea salt roasted almonds.
What's the last cool thing you saw online?
I would say that one of the most interesting things I have seen online is the evolution of Bitcoin, a digital currency. We're watching a revolution in the payment transactions with digital currency.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I've always wanted to have a business. Had I not been so shy, I had a plan to buy candy bars and soda and sell them down the street at the Little League games at a profit. But that didn't happen.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
Sugar reform is at the top of the list.
What's the last book you read?
Toast by Nigel Slater
What is your pet peeve?
The overuse of sugar or sweeteners in confections. I prefer keeping the sugar to a minimum to let the ingredients shine.
If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?
I would collaborate with the architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Although it seems unusual, I would enjoy bringing his design aesthetic to our chocolates and confections.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Everything takes time. No matter how excited you are about something and want it to happen right now, it will generally take longer than expected.
What excites you most about your job?
In addition to creating new products, I love to see the business adapt and grow through the years.