Perhaps you have noticed the sign above the storefront of the former Baskin Robins store on Clayton at Baxter roads: “chocolatier.” The new business is based on 36-year-old Rick Jordan’s obsession: making chocolate candies and pastries.
The West County native is a 1992 graduate of Chaminade College Preparatory School. He went to Loyola University of New Orleans where he majored in business. Eight years later he ended up with a computer science degree from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
Jordan got work, but hated desk jobs. He had always had jobs in the food business, so he and his brother opened a pizzeria, but it eventually failed. That led to a job at Villa Farotto’s in Chesterfield Valley.
While working there Jordan enrolled in the two-year culinary program at L’Ecole Culinaire in Ladue. That is when his connection with chocolate was formed.
“We were doing bakery pastries, and when we started working with chocolate something clicked,” Jordan said. “I told myself, ‘Hey I can do this. I feel this.’ ”
How into chocolate is Jordan? When he was recently explaining when to harvest a ripe cocoa bean, he rolled up his left sleeve and pointed to a bean on a tattoo of a cocoa plant that covers most of his arm.
Before graduating from L’Ecole Culinaire, Jordan was promoted from a cook to pastry chef at Villa Farotto’s. Then he went to Italy and studied with six chocolatiers in Tuscany. He followed that up by attending the French Pastry School in Chicago.
During this same time Jordan discovered Chocolatier Patrick Roger of Paris and began a several year email correspondence with the staff. Last fall Jordan was invited to be the first American apprentice at Roger’s shop in Paris suburb of Sceaux.
“It was incredible not only to be the first American apprentice but to work with Patrick Roger,” Jordan said.
Jordan also began supplying the Lumiere and River City casinos with specialty chocolate products on a wholesale basis in 2010.
He has now cashed everything in, quit his pastry chef position at Villa Farotto’s, moved in with his parents in Town and Country and rented the store at 14882 Clayton Rd.
A tour of the shop revealed both roasted cocoa beans from a supplier and raw cocoa beans from around the world that Jordan will roast himself.
Jordan admits his shop will not be some place to come in for a $1 chocolate bar or a single piece of candy. But he promises the kind of chocolate you find in his store will not be like anything you buy in a chocolate shop at the mall.
I am more of a Nestle Crunch kind of guy, but my wife isn’t. Jordan offered her a sample of hazelnut-cocoa paste spread between two extremely thin wafers of chocolate. I could tell it was better than a Hershey bar. My wife said it was as good or better than any chocolate she had had in Switzerland, France or Italy.
Jordan hopes to open his store a day or two after July Fourth.