Lake Champlain Chocolates
Embarking on an expansion project was an obvious choice for Lake Champlain Chocolates when an adjacent building came up for sale.
“We’ve been doing factory tours since the mid-’90s, and the cafe would get crowded, and the demos would be standing room only,” said Meghan Fitzpatrick, head of public relations and communications. “As the building came up [for sale] next door, we said, let’s have a real education space and a bigger cafe where people could come and enjoy their hot chocolate rather than order and go.”
Lake Champlain Chocolates realized its dream in early 2014 with the opening of the South End Kitchen, a combination education kitchen, cafe and award-winning chocolate crafting observation deck, and the space has been a boon for groups ever since.
Chocolate-making classes, particularly the perennially sold-out course on crafting chocolate bars, are favorites with groups, but the South End Kitchen also offers an opportunity to mix sweet and savory. Chef Sarah Langan organizes hands-on or demo cooking classes with dinner featuring local favorite foods or guest chefs cooking new recipes from their recent cookbooks.
Though Fitzpatrick said it’s difficult for groups to pair a savory and a sweet cooking class on the same day because of the prep time needed, they can easily combine a factory tour, a cooking or chocolate course, and lunch in the cafe for a half-day excursion.