By Stefanie Gans
Gist: Chocolates (40 flavors), truffles (400 flavors), jellies, brittles, barks and fudges handmade in Stafford
Who: Former paralegal Tim Douglas, 42, opened Virginia Chocolate Company ten years ago.
Started: “I hate to admit it, but I was really good at my job,” says Douglas at his time at the (now defunct) debt-collecting firm Mann Bracken, where he helped sue 40,000 Virginians in one year alone. After almost a decade there, he quit right before Christmas. Needing money for presents, he sold hand-dipped truffles, a skill he picked up from a French chef at his foster mother’s restaurant Le Petit Chef in Vermont, more than 25 years before.
Inspiration: When a customer requested a rose-flavored truffle, Douglas thought it was too floral: “It was like getting my mouth washed out with soap.” He remedied the garden-overload by resurrecting the scented memories of his two months living in India, mixing cardamom with rose oil.
Details: Labeled “Very Hot!,” the Spicy Habanero milk chocolate bar uses chilies from the Falls Church Farmers Market, cream from a small farm in Pennsylvania and for extra heat, the notoriously capsaicin-concentrated ghost pepper. “I’m a little sadistic with that one,” says Douglas.
Next: Expanding into a bigger facility, opening kiosks in local malls (Springfield, Fair Oaks, Tysons) and offering calico (combining milk, dark and white chocolate) Easter bunnies.