Fresh off of his induction into the Dessert Professional Magazines Chocolatier Hall of Fame, Love is celebrating his 15th anniversary as a chocolatier, a profession he fell into.
After years of traveling the world as the corporate executive pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton, he left to produce a competitive pastry show for Television Food Network. He remembers, “My paycheck was gone. I’m sitting in a 700 square foot medical building with a desk and I’m nervous.”
So he started making chocolates to supplement his income. A year later USA Today put Love on their list of 10 best places to buy chocolates for Valentines Day, forcing him to drop the TV gig and make his side job full-time.
His chocolates are pieces of art, almost too pretty to eat, but too irresistible not to.
The chef’s fascination with culinary art began as a child. In 2nd grade he bought Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls, promptly making his mother pear halves fashioned to look like mice on a plate. His first cookies were a disaster, he used a cup of salt instead of a teaspoon.
Today’s recipe for success, “You don’t have to recreate the wheel to be successful, you need to make things your customers want to buy, eat and enjoy more so than any they ever have,” says Love.
The other main ingredient is giving back. Love generously donates tens of thousands of chocolates to charities every year. He says, “Mary (his wife) and I made a pledge from the beginning, if you’re going to do business in a community you have to support the community.“
Always creating something new, this month you’ll find the limited edition First Love collection; a clever way to bring back signature flavors from years past such as 5 Spice, French Silk, Macadamia and Éclair.
Fans of his chocolate salons in Naples and Fort Myers will be glad to know he is actively looking for more locations to make your dabbling in decadence more convenient.
Still extremely passionate about his work, Love is also humbled by his international success, saying “We are simple people who work hard to do something right. The true testament for me is my team. They come to work to be excellent, they come to work with a purpose, to be better than yesterday. This is what I drive and what they understand. It’s not me. It’s 75 ladies and gentlemen that make this work.”