High honor comes to Fruition

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - Mid-Hud­son News Net­work

SHOKAN >> A small cho­co­late fac­tory in this town of Olive ham­let has won high hon­ors in the In­ter­na­tional Cho­co­late Awards for 2016, mak­ing its prod­ucts among the “best of kind” in the en­tire world.

The In­ter­na­tional Cho­co­late Awards is an in­de­pen­dent com­pe­ti­tion rec­og­niz­ing ex­cel­lence in fine cho­co­late. Fruition Cho­co­late, of Shokan, won the grand jury “best in com­pe­ti­tion” prize for milk bar cho­co­late in the global com­pe­ti­tion.

Fruition owner and cho­co­late maker Bryan Gra­ham said he was sur­prised and hum­bled by the gold medal.

“They go to great lengths to judge ev­ery­thing blind and go through a re­ally rig­or­ous process of tast­ing the sub­mis­sions,” Gra­ham said.

“It re­ally speaks to the qual­ity of the ingredients that are avail­able lo­cally,” said Ul­ster County Ex­ec­u­tive Michael Hein, who ex­pressed pride that Fruition is con­sid­ered the best of its kind on the planet. “Though we look to be the health­i­est county in all of New York state, the re­al­ity is, a lit­tle milk cho­co­late ev­ery now and then is good too.”

Diane Reeder, owner of the Kingston Candy Bar on Wall Street, agreed.

“You don’t have to be an ex­pert to know re­ally good stuff that you’re eat­ing,” Reeder said.

Fruition prod­ucts move fast in Reeder’s Up­town store, of­ten re­quir­ing cus­tomers to make reser­va­tions just to buy some.

Gra­ham cut his teeth in cui­sine as a pas­try chef at the Bear Cafe in Wood­stock and later at­tended the Culi­nary In­sti­tute Amer­ica in Hyde Park, fall­ing in love with cho­co­late con­fec­tions. Today, Fruition sources and im­ports eth­i­cally har­vested South Amer­i­can ca­cao beans, mix­ing in high­qual­ity lo­cally grown ingredients.

The fin­ished prod­uct is not cheap — a 2.5-ounce bar re­tails for $9 to $12 each. “It is ex­pen­sive, but I’m to­tally con­fi­dent that it’s worth it,” Gra­ham said. “A lit­tle piece is all you need to sat­isfy your­self; a cho­co­late bar can last you quite a while.”

Pro­duc­tion is al­ways in­creas­ing, Gra­ham said, cur­rently at about 1 ton per month, with four em­ploy­ees, plus one more at a re­tail shop in Wood­stock.

“We’re be­gin­ning to out­grow this lo­ca­tion, but we’re not sure ex­actly where we’ll ex­pand to,” he said. “Kingston is def­i­nitely an op­tion.”

Back in 2011, when Fruition was formed, less than two dozen craft cho­co­late busi­nesses ex­isted in North Amer­ica. Now that num­ber has grown to about 200. An up­com­ing fifth an­niver­sary open house and tast­ing event will be held Satur­day at Fruition’s bean-to­bar fa­cil­ity in Shokan.

MID-HUD­SON NEWS NET­WORK

Bryan Gra­ham, right, owner of Fruition Cho­co­late in Shokan, works with an as­sis­tant in the prep room of the fac­tory.

MID-HUD­SON NEWS NET­WORK

The fin­ished prod­uct is dis­played at the Fruition Cho­co­late fac­tory in Shokan.

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