Bullfrog talks taste, lineage and community with a bullfrogpowered chocolatier in Toronto
When you walk into Stubbe Chocolates, located at Dupont and Christie in Toronto, you are immediately welcomed by the delightful smell of rich, homemade chocolate. And if you are a chocolate lover like me, the alarm bells start going off—you know this may not end well.
Do you remember that scene in the movie, Chocolat, where Alfred Molina’s character is rudely awoken one morning from a chocolate coma, his body hanging halfway out of the local chocolate shop’s storefront window? The previous night, Molina’s character had raided the shop, indulging in any chocolate he could get his cocoa-covered hands on.
I’m hoping my fate will be different—and that I can resist—if only for long enough to complete the interview with this delightful bullfrogpowered customer.
Enter owner Daniel Stubbe (pictured at right), who is—quite frankly—the stuff of fairytales. A third-generation chocolate maker, Stubbe tells us how his parents met. “My father was an apprentice in my mother’s uncle’s pastry shop,” he says. Then, with a grin, “Nine months after the apprenticeship ended, I was born.” You can see the long line of chocolatiers he has descended from (on both sides) proudly showcased at the front of his store.
After a quick tour of the shop and kitchen, we settle in for the interview, which will be accompanied by a plate of truffles. As I taste the champagne and peach sample, fireworks go off in my head—no exaggeration.
“What are the common traits of a good chocolatier?” my colleague and I ask Daniel. “Patience? Attention to detail? Magic?”
“I don’t believe chocolatiering is an art,” he says. Daniel has picked “Snarky” as his mood for the day, in one of those flip-sign mood charts displayed on the edge of his workstation. “I think it’s more of a trade, a craft or science. And if you do it enough—you just perfect it.”
What’s also interesting about Stubbe Chocolates (Daniel’s shop isn’t the only one—his father has a shop in Ottawa’s Byward Market) is that the family is not obsessive about keeping recipes under lock and key.
“We see recipes as evolving, changing—we’re always trying to improve and perfect them over time,” Daniel says.
We try a tea-infused dark chocolate, a salted caramel and a coconut caramel truffle. This is quickly turning into the best day of my life.
It turns out Daniel is just as committed to the planet as he is to making delicious chocolate. In business for 21 years, Daniel is among Bullfrog’s earliest customers, signing on in 2008. The shop is bullfrogpowered with 100% green electricity. “It is just the right thing to do,” he says.
Living down the street from his shop, Daniel and his family are also Bullfrog Power residential customers. He is largely impacted by his community—how close-knit it is, how he can give to it and how it gives to him. “When you have a close community, you are much more aware of your business’ impact on it,” he says. Daniel tells us about how he bikes the Toronto beltline, tends to the family garden plot at Frankel Lambert Community gardens and supports other local businesses.
He talks about the strong relationships he’s made over 21 years of business: the couple who comes in every single weekend to get their chocolate for the week; the customer who comes in once a year—every year—to get all of her Easter supplies.
“I only try new products on certain key customers,” he says. “It’s these relationships—that go beyond the sale and go back to the community impact. They inspire me to want to do good for the community.”
In addition to choosing Bullfrog Power, Stubbe has installed LED lighting through the store, implements energy efficiency measures and cycles to work.
“In Germany [where Stubbe and his family originated], you see the connection between living or doing business, and impact. We throw out our garbage, for example, and then we see the landfill whenever we drive through the country. There is that connection—so we want to reduce our garbage. Whereas in Canada, you throw out garbage and it’s taken to a landfill in Michigan. I find there’s a real disconnect between action and impact in Canada.”
“Businesses, and especially manufacturers, have a responsibility to reduce our impact.”
We couldn’t leave without asking what Daniel’s favourite chocolates are.
“I’m into the crispy ones right now.”
Visit Stubbe Chocolates at 653 Dupont Street in Toronto. You’re in for a treat! Mention Bullfrog Power for a 10% discount, valid until November 30, 2017.