As someone who doesn’t go downtown a lot, it took the grand opening of the French Broad Chocolate’s new Factory at 21 Buxton Ave. in downtown Asheville, North Carolina to change my mind! I read about it in the Asheville Citizen-Times Newspaper and decided to take my teenaged son to the grand opening on Friday, June 29th, 2012.
It was a wonderful introduction to how everyone’s favorite food is made. After a brief speech and introduction of owners, Jael and Dan Rattigan, by an officer of Home Trust Bank, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held. The crowd was then led inside the 4,000 foot factory recently opened by the owners of French Broad Chocolates ( located within walking distance at 10 S.Lexington Ave.) There were free samples of many of the different chocolate bars they create, as well as samples of beers flavored with cacao products made at a local micro brewery and bar which operates next door. Other free snacks and drinks were offered and chocolate bars made at the factory could be purchased.
The owner, Dan Rattigan, took visitors on a tour of the factory, which literally takes the chocolate from cacao bean to chocolate confections right in the factory. This is a first in Western North Carolina, and one of only a few in the country. I took pictures of Dan as he lead us through the factory and showed us each step in how the cacao beans were processed. The Rattigans get most of their cacao from Free Trade” Cacao farms in Peru. They also own a cacao farm in Costa Rica, which will supply some of the beans.
During the presentation, Home Trust Bank offered to purchase a piece of equipment needed to make processing go a bit quicker. The walls of the Factory were lined with beautiful photos of the place the cacao is grown, the farm owned by the family and the processes the beans go through on their way to becoming the product used to make their delicious chocolates. If you are in Western North Carolina, going to taste the treats at French Broad Chocolates Lounge is a must! Tours of the factory can be scheduled as well as special orders for holidays, wedding, parties and such.