Chocolate that “takes your breath away”

Seventy (70) percent of the world’s chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast and its exquisite flavour can be found deep within Rheo Thompson’s famous mouthwatering mint smoothie. It has been said to “take your breath away.”

image“We taste with our eyes,” says Kristene Steed.

We make 152 different types of candy products throughout the year and our mint smoothie is our signature product. It is over 80% of what we do and it’s all hand made, ” says Kristene Steed, owner of Rheo Thompson Candies. Steed and co-owner husband, Marc Johnstone turned chocolate making into a passion in Stratford, one of Canada’s arts communities.image

The mouth watering mint smoothie.

zeeBigBang interviewed Steed to find out about the connection between the culinary art of being chocolatiers and their deep commitment to the renowned Stratford Theatre.

Rheo Thompson produces a custom semi-sweet bar for the Stratford Theatre that is sold in the liquor bars at the three different Stratford theatres. Rheo Thompson also created and produced a 2012 special edition bar to celebrate the Stratford Theatre’s 60th anniversary.

They donate and fund raise for the Gallery Stratford and are Silver Level sponsors of the Stratford Festival Theatre. Steed served on their board for seven years and contributes to their funding raising initiatives. “The Stratford Theatre is paramount for a community like ours. We do an enormous amount of funding for the arts because we recognize a need for funding in the arts community,” says Steed.

imageMarc Johnstone (left) and Kristene Steed (right), owners of Rheo Thompson Candy and Stratford Theatre supporters.

In 2010, 2011 and 2012 the Stratford Gazette announced Rheo Thompson Candy as the Reader Choice Award for the most popular business and service in the area.

What makes Rheo Thompson chocolates among the best in the world?

“In our world as chocolatiers the chocolate is a complement to the center. We are candy makers so we make our own centers and we are enrobing our centers. We want the chocolate we use to be a complement –  a perfect balance between the two,“ said Steed. “For our mint smoothie we use mint sourced from a very specific region. The mint is a natural oil with the right aroma, flavor and after taste. There are no artificial aspects. That is very important. We have been making this product for 41 years now. A combination of things make our products great but the biggest one is the fresh ingredients that go into them.”

image

Nothing but fresh, natural ingredients.

“We use a very high cocoa content. There are three cocoa beans that go into our chocolate for the flavour with another to round it out. We source our cocoa from the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and South America,” said Steed. “It’s our own flavour.”

“We have maintained traditional recipes. Some are from the original Owen Brown Company which date back to the 1930’s and 1940’s,” says Steed. “We start from scratch using fresh whole ingredients we do not use any preservatives. We get our dairy, cream and butter from a local dairy just 15 minutes away. We use fresh honey from a nearby apiary and our maple syrup is local. Everything is cooked in copper kettles over gas burners.”

imageCandy makers hard at work.

Johnstone heads production. “There is an enormous amount of science and chemistry – but patience is needed. There is a high cocoa content so you need to temper the chocolate cooling to a certain temperature range.“ Rheo Thompson’s chocolate makers know from the texture what the temperature is. If it is too thin, it is too hot; if it is too thick, it is too cold. “That comes from experience,” explains Steed. “Chocolate is always best enjoyed at room temperature.”

imageAll chocolates and candy are hand made.

Rheo Thompson Candies produces all products in their 12,000 sq. foot kitchen with five production lines. Its cold room is state-of-the-art with humidity and climate control. Packaging, boxing and the retail store are all in one location. They ship all over North America, Northern Europe and Australia.

To find out more about Rheo Thompson Candies or to place an order for your next arts or entertainment event and have them shipped, click here.

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