Life in our Foothills May 2022 – Bonne Bouche Fine Chocolates
Published 11:32 am Monday, May 9, 2022
Little Bites of Fancy at Bonne Bouche Fine Chocolates
Handmade Gourmet Truffles, Treats, Barks and Brittles
“I’m like a hummingbird. I feed off sugar!” says Casey Scanlon, owner of Bonne Bouche Fine Chocolates in Mill Spring, N.C.
“People ask me, ‘How come you don’t weigh a lot when you work around all this chocolate?’ And I say, ‘Because I make all this chocolate and I never sit still!’”
Casey grew up in Upstate New York and was her town’s prized babysitter. One year for Christmas, one of the mothers gave her some homemade chocolates as a gift.
“A light bulb went off in my head. What?! You can make your own chocolate? So, I tucked it away in my brain. Someday I’m going to make my own chocolate because I love chocolate. I just have no off button with it,” says Casey.
As a young adult with many creative talents, Casey’s first career was as a successful stained glass artist. She traveled up and down the East Coast doing shows and commissions for homes, creating fused and fire painted stained glass works of art.
Although she enjoyed making stained glass, due to economic downturns she revisited her long ago dream of making chocolates from scratch. In 1994, she went to the library and checked out books on how to do this. Not long after, she made her first pieces and gave them as gifts. People told her how much they loved it and asked to buy them to give to family and friends.
A few years later, she made it official and received her certification from Ecole Chocolat Professional School of Chocolate Arts (ecolechocolate.com). Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, the school teaches not only how to make chocolate, but also the business of chocolate-making.
Casey received very good grades for her chocolate making at the school. In fact, she went to France for the taste testing portion of the evaluations, and received a perfect score.
A true creative spirit, she quickly learned while making chocolate that she did not like many of the recipes, so she started coming up with her own very unique ideas. Today at Bonne Bouche, you will find her one of a kind chocolates such as Plum Yums, Pecan Chili Brittle and Chakrates, which are seven flavors of raw organic chocolates that reflect the seven Chakras. She even makes unique Take and Break Truffle Treats that mimic the look of scented wax melt squares.
After living and working as a stained glass artist in Black Mountain, N.C. for some time, Casey moved to California and then Oregon, where she started her first chocolate company, Chocolate Fandango.
“My slogan was, ‘We’ll make your tastebuds dance!’” says Casey.
In Oregon she lived near the Umpqua National Forest, so she created a signature treat called the Yumqua, which became very popular. At that time, another revelation came after going to a dog show. There were no treats for humans at the show, so she decided to attend dog shows and sell her chocolates there. She went to various craft shows as well, growing her business little by little.
Years went by, and in 2019 after enduring some big life changes, Casey decided to move back to Black Mountain where she says it felt much more like home than where she grew up. She continued to operate Chocolate Fandango part time, and moved to Tryon at her realtor Paula Marzella’s suggestion, for its small town charm and the art scene Casey was looking for. Today, she works on stained glass pieces from time to time, and can be found online at Facebook.com/Glassinations.
Paula also suggested it would be a good idea for Casey to look into selling her chocolates at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.
“Because Paula was so right about Tryon, I decided, well, maybe I’ll look into that!” Casey says. She started with tent booths on two different weekends in May, when the horse season started.
Then she received a call from the Equestrian Center management. “They said, you make chocolate? We would love to have you consider taking one of the shops!” she says. Casey then recalled that many years prior she discovered that her first name Casey, and her maiden name Phillips mean “Brave Horseman.” And from there, the magic began.
Casey was able to put a kitchen inside the shop, which she says was so liberating because she could then come in and make chocolate any time she wanted. Prior to that, she rented church kitchens by the day to make her chocolates for shows and events.
Because of her French chocolate school training, Casey felt the new business should have a French name. That’s how the store name Bonne Bouche (pronounced “Bun Boosh”) came to be. Translated, Bonne Bouche means “Tasty Bite” or “Tasty Mouthful.”
Casey’s artist friend who used to work for Dean & DeLuca, an upscale grocery store and café chain, helped her with merchandising and coming up with her creative logo, one that wasn’t literal, but reflected the feeling she wanted her chocolate to evoke. After much thought, a bluebird in a chef’s hat became her store’s spirit animal.
“One day after working on the store I was exhausted and I couldn’t think any more, so I laid down to read with my pets, and I fell asleep. Two hours later, I woke up with ‘The Blue Bird of Happiness’ in my head and I was like, ‘That’s It!’ Because making chocolate makes me happy and eating chocolate makes people happy! And I like making people happy,” says Casey. “At Bonne Bouche, my mission is not to just give people chocolate. It’s to give them a happy chocolate experience.”
All around the store, Casey has hidden ten blue birds with chef’s hats. Children who visit the store are invited to locate all ten to win a prize, a sticker or a chocolate horse shoe. She also has a game for adults where they can draw a helpful quote or a discount code out of a basket. Everyone who buys chocolate from the shop gets a reusable blue bag, to bring back and receive a small discount when they return to buy more. Some of her most popular items are The WooHoo, S’mores Bark, Pecan Turtles and her signature chocolate, The Raspbaby.
As anyone who’s opened a small business knows, it’s always a big risk, but on May 5, Casey will celebrate her very successful first anniversary at TIEC. During this entire year, along with her loyal customers, the management at TIEC have been very instrumental in helping her business succeed, and for that Casey is very thankful. She also has the support of her good friend Tiffany who, when the store gets busy or Casey needs to be away, steps in to help.
Casey says, “Happiness is the key to success. Success is not the key to happiness. And I think that’s why I’ve been successful this year, because I’m providing happiness.”
To visit Bonne Bouche Fine Chocolates, open year-round, head over to the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) located at 25 International Blvd, Mill Spring, N.C. and look for Vendor Cabin 8A. Summer hours are Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m, Saturday 10 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m – 4 p.m. Questions? Contact Casey at 828-817-4122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Erin Boggs and Casey Scanlon