My husband and business partner, Peter Austin-Smith, and I come from two very different worlds. I’m a Canadian military veteran and was born in Quebec. When I was in my 20’s, I was transferred to Halifax, then Greenwood. Peter has a background in history, wildlife biology, and environmental studies and settled in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, with his family when he was seven. Our paths finally crossed here at Medford Beach, Nova Scotia, in 2010.
We both feel a deep connection to this land, having adapted our lives to the tidal rhythm and farming activities that are buzzing about year round. I’ve also discovered that my Acadian ancestors lived in Canard, just a few kilometres away! So, in a historical sense, this is my homeland, or as the Acadians would call it, my “patrie.” We are fortunate to live in this wonderful spot with so much food produced right here. We enjoy shopping locally, and have gained a profound respect and affection for people who make food — from growers to artisans.
Peter and I have always had cravings for chocolate. Some of our best memories come from one of the little chocolate shops we’ve enjoyed visiting whenever we travelled! I got my wake-up call the day I tasted handcrafted “bean-to-bar” chocolate. I couldn’t believe the flavours in fine chocolate! I tried to find some near home without success. Since then, I decided I was going make chocolate for myself to feed our addiction.
Little did I know when I made that decision that chocolate making is anything but easy! In fact, our instructors at Ecole Chocolate half-jokingly warned us about going into chocolate business, but despite the challenges and efforts involved, the chocolate passion continued to grow. We decided to go ahead and make it a business.
Being a chocolate maker allows me to connect with cacao farmers and learn from them. After all, chocolate came to us from the Mayans, not from Belgium or France, as it grows in tropical rainforests. In fact, Peter and I spent a week doing meeting with growers in March 2017. We visited dedicated cacao farmers, insanely talented chocolate makers, and master chocolatiers throughout Costa Rica. As a result, we have a deep appreciation for these people. We know that their work is difficult and they deserve to be paid a decent living wage. Therefore, we are committed to ensuring that better than fair wages reach the farmers directly.
A wise chocolate mentors once said:
If you’re in the chocolate business and you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong!”
This remains our focus – enjoying making chocolate while making people smile! I hope you enjoy our creations as much as we do.
Owner & Chocolate Maker,
Petite Patrie Chocolate