Many of us got our first taste of Chocolate F/X at the 2014 Yum!East festival — along with a huge cross section of East Nashville food purveyors, CFX was on hand sharing creations and meeting new neighbors, just as finishing touches were being put on their new space at the Shoppes on Fatherland.
Fast-forward a month and change, and Chocolate F/X’s East Nashville outpost is open and serving up creative, sweet tooth-satisfying confections. Owner Andrea Smith’s stuff fits her new neighborhood pretty well — Chocolate F/X’s offerings are a little left-of-center sweet, with surprising flavors (like caramels infused with way-spicy ghost peppers) and similarly brow-raising designs (around Friday the 13th, you could snag a chocolate Jason mask flanked by 13 bonus treats).
Now that Smith’s got her East Side footing, we checked in to learn a little bit more about what she does, why she does it and why she chose to do it here:
The East Nashvillian: How’d you get into the chocolate-making biz?
Andrea Smith: “I had purchased some chocolates online and loved the flavor and look of them so much. I started researching chocolates online, and fell in love with the craftsmanship. I decided to try making some confections and never stopped.
“I worked as much as I could with chocolate, reading, Internet… a ton of trial and error. After I had learned a bit and had my own company, I started traveling with it to Horror, Sci-fi and Comic book conventions. I landed a job as head chocolatier at a place in Atlanta and worked there sharpening skills for the last three years. I realized I could have fun with the flavor profiles and all types of imagery in the chocolates while respecting the teachings and philosophies of chocolate masters from around the world. I now have competed in two chocolate competitions and plan on doing more. So much more to learn.”
What drew you toward Nashville, and opening a shop in East Nashville, specifically?
“I had been visiting Nashville off and on for the last year coming up from Atlanta to visit my boyfriend. We decided all at once that we wanted to be together permanently and that I should open up a shop. I researched Nashville chocolate shops, and specifically East Nashville, due to its popularity and rise in a lot of people wanting to spend time in this area. I couldn’t find anything similar — there was Olive & Sinclair, (but) they are a bean to bar chocolate maker (amazing chocolates). I am a chocolatier — I take bulk chocolate (like O&S) and make confections like ganache center truffles, caramels, and toffees with it.
“East Nashville seemed like a really up-and-coming part of the city that needed something like this.”
You make some pretty bold flavor choices, like ghost pepper caramels. What inspires the flavors you come up with?
“Everything! I love fun, innovative styles and flavors in all types of foods. A lot of the time, I will see a combination of flavors on a menu or some other food someone is talking about and wonder, 'How would it taste in a sweet form?' As soon as I thought of the way I could make the Ghost Pepper Caramel, I knew it was going to be good.”
Visuals and aesthetic seem to be a big part of Chocolate F/X’s personality — what drew you toward putting such an emphasis on design?
“I originally went to school for special effects make-up. I wanted to make monsters and transform characters for movies/TV. That first box of chocolates had little images on them. All I kept thinking was that if I made pieces like this, I could put images on them of stuff that I enjoyed — like monsters, tattoo images, sci-fi. That was the start, then I realized I could make my own chocolate molds using the mold-making techniques I learned from FX, and that opened up a whole new world for me.”
How do you feel like the response has been from the community since you’ve been open?
“Everyone that comes in really seems to understand the amount of love and work that goes into each piece of chocolate. I was very nervous bringing this type of eclectic food product to a brick-and-mortar type situation, (but) I have really had nothing but people enjoying what I provide. The shop owners from the area have been insanely supportive, sending folks my way, and talking up Chocolate F/X. It's been an amazing five weeks.”
VISIT CHOCOLATE F/X
Chocolate F/X is located in the Shoppes on Fatherland at 1006 Fatherland St., No. 306A. Store hours are usually Tuesday to Saturday 11 to 7, but the shop has limited hours from July 17 to August 1: Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more, visit Chocolate F/X on Facebook.