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HomeNewsLocal newsLocal Chocolatier’s “Soft” Opening Wows Chocolate Lovers

Local Chocolatier’s “Soft” Opening Wows Chocolate Lovers

Local Chocolatier Eriika Dupree Cline’s “soft” opening of Bleu Chocolat in the Caravelle Arcade Friday wowed followers and newcomers with her delicious repertoire of fine, handmade chocolates.

Chef Erika strikes a pose near her Bleu Chocolat flow chart and tempered chocolate. (Photo by Elisa McKay)

According to Chef Erika, “A day is never good without chocolate.” This chocolatier/pastry giant knows her business, as evidenced by the huge number of folks who flocked to the opening day of her new workshop.

Fudge brownies; chocolate covered popcorn and pretzels; cookies: stemmed chocolate roses; hand-painted bonbons with tamarind, lemongrass, and other island flavors; Cruzan Rum and Coke and white chocolate margarita truffles; and so much more were attractively shelved and ready for purchase.

Chocolate-covered pretzels and popcorn, white chocolate sea shells, chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownies, and the treats go on. (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Chef Erika has been on St. Croix for just under two years. She is the pastry chef at the “castle” on the east end and at the Deep End Restaurant.

Her resume ranges from everything chocolate and pastry chef; from manager to owner; from Michigan to Tennessee and Florida, from the BVIs to the Bahamas; and to St.Croix – where she feels at home and will stay – putting her expertise on the world chocolate map, she said.

Chef Erika’s passion for chocolate keeps her focus on quality. For her small-batch chocolate bars, she uses locally-sourced cacao beans grown in our St. Croix rainforest. Looking ahead, Chef Erika wants to work closely with local cacao growers to make her Crucian chocolates distinct – using only those beans grown here. In the meantime, she supplements her recipes with high-quality Callebaut chocolate.

Justin Haugland came out early from his home in Frederiksted to be “one of the first” at the opening. Justin met Erika at a music festival shortly after she moved to the island. “When you talk to someone who speaks about their craft with a passion – palpable – she has that. She told me about her opening, and I knew I’d be here. Erika has world-class experience –  notoriety. I even invited my friend to come with her sister who is visiting from the States. So this is the perfect Crucian experience,” Justin said.

L-R, Eliana Schuster-Brown selects chocolate covered popcorn, while Justin Haugland looks on.
(Photo by Elisa McKay)

Chef Erika’s assistant Harley Hodges kept busy at the counter selling, boxing and bagging the chocolate delights. The crowd grew and the laughter of chocolate lovers enveloped the space.

Eliana Schuster-Brown came out with her family. “I met Erika a year ago and she mentioned she would be opening a store. I was always looking to follow her. I saw the info in my email and I knew I had to show up for her.”

Erika Dupree Cline earned a culinary arts associate degree from Oakland Community College in 1990. From 2004 to the present, Chef Erika has worked as an executive pastry chef in world-class hotels and restaurants. She has owned and managed restaurants and cafes.

Chef Erika’s biography reads like a Who’s Who. “Over the past 25+ years, celebrated pastry chef Erika has crafted some of the country’s most scrumptious desserts and chocolates. Chef Erika was one of the original 2010 cheftestants on Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts. She won three competitions while receiving great acclaim for her cookies and tequila bombs determined by the top chef judges. She has been featured in the Huffington Post, the Pastry Arts Magazine, Afar Travel Magazine, Black Enterprise and other media.”

“In 2008, as a devotee of the pastry arts, Chef Erika created a non-profit organization, Culinary Wonder, USA. CWUSA’s mission is to introduce, share, and cultivate the culinary arts to minorities. As president of CWUSA, Chef Erika believes that mentoring, scholarships, and volunteerism is a great avenue for providing direction in the culinary world.”

Shelves of locally-flavored bonbons and macaroons for the chocolate lovers.(Photo by Elisa McKay)

When the Source asked how she felt about the opening of her Bleu Chocolat Workshop on St. Croix, Chef Erika replied, “This feels amazing. It feels really good that people are so excited about having their own chocolate shop on the island.”

Folks have already asked Chef Erika about the upcoming classes. “We’re a small location and we plan to start the second week of August. We have eight different classes: Paint and Sip for adults; several Chocolatier classes for ages five to eleven; Caribbean chocolate history; Chocolate temper classes with Chef Erika doing demonstrations; and Chocolate truffle classes. Each class will run from one to one and one-half hours.”

During harvest season, Chef Erika will be making Crucian chocolate using the cacao from the rainforest and Hodges will assist her. “My goal is to also reach out to the high school culinary students to bring them in to learn this amazing trade.

Chef Erika and her assistant Harley Hodges, behind the counter, keep their clients happy. (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Chef Erika’s vision is to create a USVI chocolate madras. She would like to work with the USVI Department of Tourism and create special boxed chocolates for its guests. “I want to be a part. I’m here to stay.”

A grand opening of Bleu Chocolat is in the near future.

For more information:
www.bleuchocolatworkshopvi.com
Contact number: 340-725-8993

Bleu Chocolat in the Caravelle Arcade – Open Wednesday to Saturday,
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

 

 

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