Today I am excited to debut a new series called 'The Heart of New York'. Living in New York, I am always inspired and in awe of the talent around every corner - whether it be fashion, food or design, there is just so much goodness everywhere. In this series we explore their talent.
Stick with Me Sweets is a chocolate shop in SOHO that might just stop you in your tracks. Tucked away on Mott Street, this tiny shop creates some of the most beautiful bon bons you will ever come across. Not only are the flavor palettes unique, like sesame & passionfruit and creme fraiche & strawberry, but each and every piece of chocolate is hand-painted in the shop by chocolatier Susanna Yoon and are works of art. Read on to discover her creative process and how her time spent in the kitchens of Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller helped shape her aesthetic.
You were in corporate America before deciding to start culinary school. Was food always you passion? Absolutely. New York can be a whirlwind city but food was always the epicenter of my experience. No matter what happened, I could always look forward to breakfast. You can't control much of life on the outside, but you can take control the things that you create - with a lot of practice and discipline of course.
How did your time working in the kitchens of Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller shape your approach to food? Working with these two chefs and the talent in their kitchens was truly an honor and a life-changing experience. While there are too many lessons to list, one philosophy they had in common was that it all starts with the inputs. I was taught that you couldn’t expect to make the best, unless you started with the best ingredients.
At Stick With Me, we rigorously follow this principle and actively seek out the best ingredients for our chocolates. We select the farm from which we get our fresh milk, cream and cage free eggs and source premium ingredients from around the world.
I was also taught to always keep striving for perfection and to never stagnate. We all know that perfection is impossible but with discipline and hard work, everything can be a little bit better than yesterday. It has been my goal since working at Thomas Keller’s Per Se to never stop improving my flavor, design, and recipes. Now, when I look back even a year, I see how much we’ve all grown.
What prompted you to start Stick With Me Sweets? Perhaps food is the medium through which I express my emotions... but it’s always been my goal in life to make the lives of the people I care about just a bit sweeter. Stick With Me is just that - a way for me to spread love in the form of chocolates.
Your chocolate creations are works of art. How do you begin giving each its own identity and flavor? Flavor always comes first. We start with creating the recipe then find colors and designs to bring life to the ingredients inside. If you take our bourbon maple pecan bon-bon for example, the warm copper hues of bourbon is represented by a subtle gold spray. We then add a red brush stroke, which represents both a maple leaf and the seal on the Makers Mark whiskey bottle - the bourbon we use. Sometimes we incorporate the colors of the actual fruit. For example our Passionfruit is sprayed with shades of purple, and copper, and splattered with black and yellow.
In essence, the design we create serves as the visual identity of the flavors inside.
Presentation is everything, and your chocolate boxes are wonderfully designed, what was your source of inspiration? We worked together with a group of talented illustrators. All of us were quite in love with Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel and worked together to design a box that shared the movies whimsical feel.
It is hard to play favorites, but is there a combination that you created that you knew would be an instant hit? The NY, NY bonbon. It’s a chocolate coated candied pretzel surrounded by crunchy peanut butter praline topped with sea salt caramel. When I first arrived in New York, the first thing I ate was candied nuts on the side of streets. They were roasting in every corner! I figured there was a reason for that, people are nuts for nuts. What makes this bonbon even more special are the various colored brushstrokes that represent the love and diversity of New York.
How many new flavors do you introduce a season? We are constantly introducing new flavors. We have special limited edition flavors for almost every holiday!
What is your biggest source of inspiration? My biggest sources of inspirations are books, people, and art.
Photographs by Alison