Sitting outside of Xoco Westcoast Chocolate on Cleveland Avenue, chocolatier Kevin Young reminisces about the first five years of his life growing up in the shop that was once called Xocolatl before his mom Annette sold it and the family eventually moved away from Squamish.
It's an interesting turn of events as the 23-year-old, whose fingers are stained blue from painting truffles in the back kitchen, relays the expansion of the rapidly growing business the pair re-acquired three and a half years ago.
Hot on the heels of launching two different chocolate bars, now available at seven retail locations in the corridor, Young describes plans for several more confections to add to the line in the near future.
He said the process has been much like starting a new business all over again.
"It's absolutely terrifying, but it's super exciting. You're just reacting, fixing mistakes and getting everything going. That's the terrifying part, but it's also great and it's been super cool."
Chocolate fanatics can purchase the "sun bar," a dark chocolate with fruit and pecans, and "moon bar," milk chocolate with nuts and sea salt, for around $7.49. It's being carried by Nesters Market corridor locations, The Green Olive, Counterpart Coffee, and in Whistler at Olives Market, 122 West, and Blackcomb Liquor.
Young said the company is testing the waters with the first two products to ensure they can keep up with the demand before adding their salted caramel chocolates and raspberry Earl Grey tea nut clusters to the mix.
"We were talking the other day, and Annette asked me what I thought, and I said, ‘You know, I'm willing to pull all-nighters again if needed," said Young, who received his education at the Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver and took a master class in chocolate making with the renowned Melissa Coppel. "I've been on pretty good work schedule lately. I'm willing to get back in there."
At this stage, the two other treats have been sent off to food scientists for the nutritional information testing. The next two in line are the shop's infamous almond dragée (caramelized chocolate covered nuts) and their peanut butter bark.
Young, who began making and selling boxes of chocolates out of his house when he was just 16 years old, said working with family friend and artist Kim Sawula was a huge part of the fun in beginning the retail line.
In addition to designing the gorgeous chocolate bar packaging, Sawula also created the store's logo when they rebranded in 2015.
"Kim is an amazing artist. We wanted something that really represented the Sea to Sky — a wild country kind of feeling — and she really delivered. When we first saw it we are wondering: Would this work the way we think it's going to work, with the sun and moon cutouts? And it did and we were so thrilled with it," he said, adding that he's been a bit gobsmacked to see his product on store shelves.
"I go to shop at Nesters pretty much every day and I go over to look at my chocolate bars on the shelf. It's so much fun, I even had my friend take a picture of me in front of them. It's crazy!"