Alum of Business: Fruition Chocolate
In the up-and-coming world of small batch bean-to-bar chocolate, there’s no mold for success. Just a few years old, Catskill Mountains based Fruition Chocolate is already ahead of the craft chocolate scene, with awards from the International Chocolate Awards, Good Food Awards, Dessert Professional, and Northwest Chocolate Festival. In the case of Bryan Graham, owner and lead chocolatier at Fruition, exceptional chocolate and confections begin with the basics. “It’s all about sourcing the finest cacao in the world,” he says.
After mastering the many steps of bean-to-bar production, Bryan attended Food Craft Institute’s Business Intensive (the predecessor to our Quarterly Business Modules) in order to learn the business basics necessary to poise Fruition for success as they started to scale production. We recently caught up with Bryan, just a few awards and a couple years later, to see what’s up next for the Hudson Valley native.
When did you first decide to start a food business?
I grew up around food in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley where there’s a bounty of food and that’s the only thing I ever knew I wanted to do. After attending culinary school and falling in love with chocolate, I decided to start a chocolate shop. I wanted to have control over the entire chocolate making process, starting with sourcing high quality cocoa beans and crafting chocolate from bean to bar.
How did the Food Craft Institute’s Business Course help you grow your business?
Having not gone to business school before starting my business, it was extremely helpful to hear from industry experts.
Who is your biggest food inspiration
I’ve had a lot of mentors over the years, starting with my grandmother, then the chefs and pastry chefs at The Bear Cafe in Woodstock where I got my start as a baker and pastry chef, and also several instructors at The Culinary Institute of America.
What do you envision the upcoming years will bring for Fruition Chocolate?
Continued growth and more distribution, both nationally and internationally. We’re developing a more extensive line of chocolate and confections.
What have been the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered?
We’re in a rural area, so finding highly skilled employees. Access to capital and bank loans while the economy was still recovering.
What advice do you have for new food entrepreneurs starting out?
Find something you love and do it. Plan as much as you can, and learn about the industry.