High honor comes to Fruition
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.
Bryan Graham, right, owner of Fruition Chocolate in Shokan, works with an assistant in the prep room of the factory.
The finished product is displayed at the Fruition Chocolate factory in Shokan.