Cacao beans from Nigeria used by The Carbon Chocolate Workshop, to open March 1 in Pine Street Concessions, 75 Pine St. in New Canaan. Contributed
Drew Salko’s lifelong love for cooking really started paying off when he went to college.
Studying finance at Drexel University in Philadelphia, the Southport native began baking and serving ice cream for friends stressed about homework and finals, even brewing his own wine and beer.
As a senior, he started making chocolate.
“I just got a small chocolate grinder for my apartment and began making different single-origin chocolate and figuring out which cacao beans I liked, from Madagascar or Venezuela,” Salko recalled on a recent afternoon.
“I’m a little nervous but I’m excited to have a permanent location where I can offer up a lot of different products and expand my product line,” Salko said.
That product line includes organic, fair-trade single-origin chocolate that’s sourced from various countries, chocolate truffles that use fruits and herbs from Salko’s own gardens and local farms, chocolate spreads that use coconut milk and other vegan-friendly options, baked goods such as cookies, brownies and macaroons, cakes and candies such as caramels and chocolate fruits and nuts.
“New Canaan is a perfect spot,” Salko said.
“For one, the Pine Street market is definitely where I wanted to be—it has the right kind of feel for what I wanted, a market with different vendors where people can go and have a pizza or a salad and also come over for chocolate for dessert.”
Salko also noted that New Canaan hasn’t had a dedicated chocolate shop since Belgique Chocolatier on Elm Street closed several years ago. A graduate of Fairfield Ludlowe High School who grew up with a number of friends from St. Luke’s School and so became very familiar with New Canaan, Salko long has purchased fresh ingredients for his chocolate products, such as eggs and dairy, from the New Canaan Farmers Market.
“I think New Canaan definitely prefers items that are more handmade and handcrafted,” he said.
Since starting The Carbon Chocolate Workshop, Salko has visited farmers markets throughout Connecticut, testing out products to see what people like, he said.
Salko’s kitchen facility—his gear includes a modified coffee bean roaster that produces five pounds of roasted cacao beans at a time and granite small-batch chocolate grinders—is located in Newtown. His 1,200-square-foot garden is on his family’s farm in Southport, herbs and fruits such as cayenne, Marion berries from Oregon, Goji berries from China and variations of raspberries—purple and yellow—that cannot be found on the market, Salko said.