Meet chocolatier Leslie Vilhelmsen, a Chicago native who has lived in Charlotte for 26 years. Three years ago, she left the corporate world and founded Charlotte Chocolate Company, makers of deliciously creative specialty chocolates. Vilhelmsen creates handmade chocolate treats for a variety of occasions and uses, such as corporate promotions, wedding favors, and birthday gifts. Her passion for chocolate is evident in her products— intricate, unique, and of course, sweet.
Creative Loafing: What inspired you to become a chocolatier?
I was helping a neighbor network [her catering business] in the neighborhood … and I thought, ‘I have to step up to the plate and make something.’ I went through old recipes and I found this recipe for chocolate that I had made back in school. When I made it for the women [in the neighborhood] they all raved about it. It was a time in my career when I was looking for something else to do, as most women do when they hit middle ages. I just wanted to get out of the corporate world … I wanted something different and more creative. When these women loved the chocolate I said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the universe telling me what I should do.’
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I have not met a chocolate I didn’t like. I like either a good milk chocolate or a really good dark chocolate — very rich, 70 percent cacao or more of dark chocolate.
Are you working on any unusual creations right now?
I have a new flavor that is a mixture of dark chocolate and ground cashews. We’ve done some market studies and people really like it. I am trying to get that formulated to put it in a candy bar.
For more information on Charlotte Chocolate Company, please visit www.charlottechocolate.com