Vosges Haut-Chocolat Chicago chocolate company teams with Sotheby's, United Airlines


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Katrina Markoff founded her chocolate company 18 years ago. 0

2 sweet deals for Katrina Markoff’s Vosges chocolate company

December 20th, 2016

Katrina Markoff’s Vosges Haut-Chocolat is wrapping up a dizzyingly busy holiday season–and a year in business that brought two big business deals.

The company teamed with Sotheby’s to showcase handmade chocolates inspired by artwork for sale at the New York auction house. And Vosges chocolates will be available in United Airlines’ new Polaris business-class lounge.

“We’ve been busy,” Markoff says in an interview.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat, founded in 1998, has stores in Chicago and New York and revenues exceeding $30 million.

For Sotheby’s, Markoff’s company has created chocolates with art in mind. The chocolates are a gift to those who stop by the auction house to view the art up for sale. The truffles are translations of the work of each artist (greats like Picasso, Monet, Miro) into chocolate featuring some of the unexpected flavors that are signature to Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

Chocolates are hand touched with rosemary, freeze-dried blueberry or candied ginger and turmeric, for example.

“There’s a lot of creative liberty, which is really fun for me,” Markoff says in an interview.

She grew up in Fort Wayne, Ind., with an interest in chemistry and baking before going on to attend Vanderbilt University with a plan to go into medicine. Cooking remained a passion, which she would eventually pursue. Markoff traveled the world to learn about food and spices. She studied at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris and had cooking stints at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli in Spain.

For a time she helped her uncle in Dallas with a start-up home-decor website and there she learned about marketing and telling stories about products.

She moved to Chicago and started Vosges Haut-Chocolat in 1998. It has stores in Chicago and New York and revenues of about $25 million.

Now Markoff, a mom and a supporter of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, is making plans to train other women food entrepreneurs.

In March, she’ll hand out scholarships to three high school and/or college age students with ideas for food start-ups. They’ll learn all aspects of Markoff’s business and when the 10-week program wraps up, she’ll give them $5,000 to pursue their ideas.

“When they get this far, I know it’s because they have grit,” says Markoff, who was 15 when she started a cake business. “I want to support that.”

 

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