New chocolate shop opens on Broad Street in Nevada City
KNOW & GO
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday. Times are subject to change.
Where: 419 Broad St., Nevada City
About a year ago, Ariel Augusto Wolansky traveled to Guatemala to participate in a cacao ceremony. The event, practiced over many generations, he said, is meant to connect people.
“I would say the first ingredient is love and care,” he said, “and from there on everything follows.”
In recent years, Wolansky said he’s been interested in cacao, and particularly the origins of harvesting the plant and holding subsequent ceremonies, which is more popular in Central America.
On Friday, Wolansky was able to more easily share his appreciation for cacao. He and his friend and manager Lauren Brown opened Choquiero, a new chocolate shop on Broad Street in Nevada City. The new store has taken over what was previously Lulu’s Chocolate Shoppe.
FROM MANY COMES ONE
Choquiero’s interior is colorful. Some paintings, photos and multicolored packages hang on the walls. Others stand tall on shelves.
The shop contains a variety of chocolate products, many of which are animal-free, said Brown. Plenty of the packages found in the store are 100% compostable.
“We’re trying to be all vegan,” she said.
Brown and Wolansky acknowledged that their friends’ artwork, jewelry and more fill the room, and that those same people helped launch their business.
Elixart’s partnership, particularly, helped spur Choquiero’s creation, Wolansky said. The two businesses are establishing a symbiotic relationship, leveraging each other for their differences. One specializes in tea, the other chocolate. One has a large indoor space, the other an expansive backyard.
“It really takes a village — that saying is so true,” said Brown. “Collaboration is so important to create something that’s going to work and something everyone can enjoy.”
THE ROAD TO CHOQUIERO
Wolansky grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and moved to Chile for a few years before finally immigrating to the United States, following his father to the Bay Area.
For a while, Wolansky said he worked in biotech before disliking the atmosphere, feeling like he was “trapped” inside with a mask on and no windows to look out.
But if his transition from biotech altered his perspective, a video Wolansky saw might have had the most outsized effect on his life. One day, a friend showed him images of animals being slaughtered in factories, and it began to transform his thinking, making him reflect on his childhood love of animals.
“All of a sudden it hit me,” he said, “Like, ‘It’s not okay, I’m not okay with that.’” He became a vegetarian and changed not just his eating habits, but also his entire lifestyle.
“I got into permaculture,” he said. “I got into growing food.”
Wolansky particularly developed a penchant for chocolate as he was able to use his background in science in new ways.
In 2014, he began playing with different chocolate recipes and distributing them to his friends. He didn’t think about selling the product until some people asked for more of his creations.
Around that same time, Wolansky experienced more change.
He moved from his home in the Bay Area to Colfax, noting that he had wanted to get away from the traffic and crime he was experiencing. Once, he said, he noticed his fertilizer had been stolen from his garden and then saw that someone had defecated in the same area. He’d had enough.
Much of Choquiero is meant to support Wolansky’s appreciation for cacao and tea ceremonies. The shop maintains a backyard for such events. The space is meant to replicate ceremonies like the ones Wolansky has been conducting out of his home, potluck style, for the last five years.
“Most of the elements are art, chocolate, tea and music, food and community,” said Wolansky, adding that ceremonies sometimes also include massages and Reiki — a kind of healing technique.
Those ceremonies bolster the idea for Brown, the friend and manager, that the shop’s chocolate is less a dessert than it is a source for betterment.
“Chocolate with intention,” she said.
To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4219.
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