“Chocolate has always been a passion of mine…I’ve craved a life where I could do the thing I’m most passionate about and actually have a life where I could pay my rent and put money towards retirement.”

After losing her job, Anne was forced into making a decision to find out what she truly wanted to do in her life. Instead of feeling devastated, she took this sudden change as a turning point to pursue her passion in all things chocolate. From working in chocolate shops to studying chocolate making at Ecole Chocolate, a Profesional School of Chocolate Arts, Anne is now the founder of Tipsy Chocolates, a perfect complement to her chocolate obsession and her love for teaching!

Keep scrolling to read about Anne’s story, a chocolate expert who has now been searching for the best chocolates around the globe for more than a decade! Get inspired by Anne’s story and learn about the classes and chocolate tours she offers to bring chocolate education to others!

Hi Anne, can you introduce yourself to our community and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?

Hello, fellow chocolate lovers! I am obsessed with chocolate and want to share my passion with the world! I’ve recently founded my own company, Tipsy Chocolates, and am excited to partner with Verlocal to list my tipsy tours, tastings, and chocolate making classes. If you like chocolate, and you like cocktails, then you’re going to LOVE Tipsy Chocolates!

Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?

I am actually an educator by training and background. But chocolate has always been a passion of mine. In fact, there is rarely a day that goes by that I haven’t eaten some type of chocolate, even if it’s just a few Peanut M&M’s — a guilty pleasure of mine!

Like many other entrepreneurs, it began when I was laid off from my job. That abrupt ending to what I thought was a new career forced me to think about what I truly wanted to do in my life. I immediately got involved working for two different chocolate shops and even took a chocolate making course through Ecole Chocolate. Along with another trip to Europe, where I wound up on a chocolate and whiskey tasting tour, I realized I could start my own business in chocolate education.

Over the last year, I’ve slowly built up plans for Tipsy Chocolates and held a few classes. Since I’ve already led tours in Boston’s Back Bay, I altered the idea slightly and created a Tipsy Chocolate Tour that launches this June!

I couldn’t be happier with the work I’m doing.

What does your passion mean to you?

I am an incredibly passionate person and even when I’ve worked at boring desk jobs, I find ways to infuse that passion outside of work. I’ve been a dancer my whole life and have always loved arts education. For years I have taken dance classes and even participated in a local dance company that performs at festivals.

But I’ve craved a life where I could do the thing I’m most passionate about and actually have a life where I could pay my rent and put money towards retirement. I wasn’t always sure that was possible. Starting my own business makes me think that I could be passionate about my work, share that with others and have enough money at the end of the month to put into a 401K. That’s not just a passion, that’s the dream!

What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?

I ultimately made the decision to start my own company because, with all my skills, it wasn’t enough in interviews. And thinking back, perhaps I wasn’t showing enough passion for the jobs I was interviewing for anyway. I had started to dream about building this company and at each interview, it didn’t seem like the right place. I would be sitting at a desk job again and I had enough of that.

I love teaching. I love engaging my audience and seeing that “ah ha” moment when two ideas connect. But I hate writing curriculum and I hated it even more, when that curriculum was critiqued. So when I realized that I could teach classes my way and never have to show anyone my curriculum documents, that’s what I really decided this was the right thing for me. I would be free to enjoy those “ah ha” moments and to trust my gut that students were learning what they wanted to learn.

How would you describe the link between your classes and the community around you?

I’ve lived in Boston a total of 11 years now. It’s a city with a rich history that is celebrated! My classes and my tours celebrate that history and infuse it’s deep ties to chocolate and chocolate making. Did you know the very first chocolate factory in the US is right here in Boston, on the Neponset River? For anyone taking my classes or walking along our Back Bay Tour, you’ll learn about that history and in fact, what happened to the founder of that very first chocolate factory!

What is your favorite chocolate and the story behind it?

To a chocolate lover, this is a terrible question! We never have just one favorite! Chocolate evokes emotion and nostalgia with every bite. So each chocolate can be a favorite or release a pleasant memory. But there is one chocolate that helped start me on my path to being a connoisseur of chocolate.

At age 20, I studied abroad in Rome, Italy and professor told us about a chocolate shop in the Trastevere neighborhood that made chocolates infused with chili. Now, up to that point in my Middle American upbringing, the most exotic chocolate I had eaten had the slogan “whack and unwrap” to discover an orange tasting chocolate that broke into orange slices. I got it in my stocking every year at Christmas. To hear of a chocolate that was infused with something spicy was crazy….. and tantalizing!

I recall wandering down tiny cobblestone streets that wound around each other trying to find this dainty, unassuming chocolate shop famous for its chili-infused chocolates. After passing it several times, I finally discovered the door and went in to purchased a few unwrapped pieces. The chocolate was dark and at first, I wasn’t sure it had any other flavors. And then it happened, that slight burning on your tongue and lips. It was less of a flavor and more of a sensation.

The movie Chocolat, with the ever-handsome Johnny Depp, had come out the year before my trip to Rome. As I sat on the curb eating my chili chocolate and a rum ball that I had also purchase, I dreamed of being Juliette Binoche making chocolates and winning an entire town over with them.

Image credits: Wikipedia

What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn more about your passion?

If you want to learn more about my passion, buy a ticket! I absolutely want to share with you.

In all my classes, tastings, tours and making sessions, I share my extensive chocolate knowledge but I also create an environment that is fun. Every session is a two-hour adventure that we go on together.

How long have you been living in Boston? What are some insider tips you’d like to recommend to someone who just moved to the city?

I spent four years in Boston in the early-200 and moved back in 2010. In that time, I have noticed the artisanal food scene has exploded! The chocolate shop I chocolatier for by day is located inside a brewery! Sometimes the best places you stumble upon when doing something else.

But I follow a few blogs to help me get the inside scoop on cool events around the city. Check out: BostInno, Scout and Universal Hub. I even pick up a free Metro paper on my commute to see what’s going on in the city.

What are some unique chocolates you have come across?

What chocolate makers are able to do now is pretty incredible. It’s as much a science as it is an art. Particularly in the bean-to-bar industry, the US has gone from a dozen kitchens/factories producing single-origin chocolate to over 100 in the last decade. And I’m determined to try them all!

One unique company I like is Rakka from Brooklyn. I’m just finding their bars at some of the specialty shops around the area. They are able to infuse flavors like cabernet sauvignon in the chocolate bar, something incredibly challenging to do. In traditional chocolate making, you can’t add any liquid to the chocolate or it will seize. What Rakka is doing is infusing the flavors prior to roasting their beans, so it’s already there when they start the conching process.

Image Credits: Raaka Chocolate
Image credits: Coco Chocolate

In my travels, I’ve also come across other boozy flavored chocolates, like the Guinness pint chocolates I got while visiting the factory. Or the port wine ganache centered chocolate bar from Porto, Portugal. Or one of my favorites, the “haggis” flavored chocolate from Coco Chocolates in Edinburgh. While it wasn’t very meaty in flavor, they use all the spices one would put into haggis.

What are your goals for the future?

I’d like to create a space similar to the paint-and-sip locations around the city, but a make-and-sip chocolate bar. I’m starting out on Verlocal to build my brand before investing in a brick-and-mortar shop. And in my chocolate bar, I want a wall ‘o chocolate where you can find some of the best chocolates from quality makers from around the US and the world!

Any recommendations for someone who might want to start their own business?

Read Making A living Without A Job by Barbara Winter. That book inspired me and helped me build a plan for starting my own business. It helped give me the courage to just make the leap and do it!

What does Verlocal mean to you?

Verlocal is helping me make this process easier and get my services out to you. I was once told that to be successful, your business is a marketing business not a product/service business. Verlocal helps me to be the best business owner I can be by helping me with the marketing so that I can also focus on my customers. I want customers to come to my classes and have the best time! I don’t want to be so distracted by trying to market to new customers that I can’t focus on who is in front of me. And that’s why I started this business in the first place.

Share one quote that resonates with you the most and what it means for you?

“Be scared, but do it anyway.” I always thought you had to be perfectly confident and have everything figured out before you start a business. And then I started reading and listening to stories by other entrepreneurs and found out that’s not what makes you a business owner, it’s doing the thing and jumping in! One story I read was an immigrant who came to the US and started a laundromat without even being able to speak English. And I figured that since I could at least speak the language, why couldn’t I start my own business!

Share with us a story of your chocolate obsession by May 12, 2017! One lucky commenter will have the chance to meet Anne and attend a Tipsy Chocolate Boston Tour for FREE.

If you are a host on Verlocal and would love to feature on host spotlight, send us an email at [email protected] with a short paragraph about why you want to be featured!

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