What is it about chocolate? It seems to create magic whenever it shows up. Anne Mills, a chocolatier, creates magic in her Seattle shop where she makes and decorates truffles as well as specialty chocolates.
Anne’s store, Eat Chocolates, located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, has a European feel. A frisky calico kitten named Kashmir runs around the shop Brightly painted pottery, hand-crafted leather bags and colorful table linens fills the shelves. The intoxicating fragrance of chocolate lingers in the air, arousing my desire for just one. Anne’s business includes importing and selling products from France.
Anne invited me into her kitchen. She pulled out an enormous tray filled with elegant, small candies. “I’ll be taking this tray of chocolates to a holiday sale this afternoon,” she said.
In addition to selling her chocolates, Anne offers chocolate-making classes and custom-made chocolates with logos, special designs or symbols.
Anne has shoulder-length strawberry-blond hair and vivid blue eyes. She held her rescue kitten, Kashmir, while telling me how she came to this profession.
The romance film, Chocolat, a story of a young single mother who opens a chocolate shop, and, through it, teaches the townspeople how to live more passionately, touched Anne deeply and sparked her dormant desire for creativity and community.
Anne’s father’s position as a Mobil Oil executive meant she spent most of her childhood far from America. We lived in Libya until I finished 5th grade,” she said. “Gaddafi took over the country on my first day in third grade.”
Her father’s transfer from Libya resulted in the family’s move to Nigeria, also a close-knit expat community. She spent high school in Connecticut. She found herself planted in a foreign place where her classmates had little or no understanding of Africa. “It was as if my childhood memories did not exist,” she said. She missed her family and friends and the sense of community she came to expect during her time in Africa.
Longing to travel and live abroad, Anne decided to study international relations and enrolled in the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. “I thought that would be my ticket to Europe,” Anne said with a wry smile. “Instead, I married a French man and we moved to Seattle. We had four children and I dabbled in several start-up opportunities. Anne worked at various part-time endeavors including multilevel marketing, calligraphy and starting a French import business with her husband. She was beginning to discover her passion for doing creative, artistic and meaningful work.
Now, Anne is doing exactly what she wants to do, making chocolates, infusing them with exotic flavors and decorating them with edible glitter. Anne’s face beamed as she described her chocolate. “Our truffles and chocolate products are made with the finest ingredients including Felchlin Maracaibo chocolate, organic cream and fresh spices, herbs, fruit and nuts.
Of course, my favorite is the dark chocolate truffle flavored with lavender. Anne infuses the ganache (a combination of chocolate and cream, melted together slowly, then formed into the centers of chocolate truffles) with fragrant lavender from Sequim’s Purple Haze Lavender.
At Eat Chocolates, the candies, not only please the palate, each tiny piece is a work of art. The picture below shows the beauty of Anne’s chocolate sticks – white chocolate with a hint of orange flavor.
Through her chocolates, Anne is building community and collaborating with other business owners.