IT’S FEATURE FRIDAY!
We are going to be featuring each of our amazing Chocolate Affair Gala vendors who have so graciously agreed to participate in our event this year!
Written by: Leslie Scott, Community Relations Coordinator
This week on FEATURE FRIDAY is Nature Made Honey!
(Stay with us, as some of you may be going "But I thought this was about the Chocolate Affair Gala" - rest assured, it is!)
Say hello to Micheline & Frank, friends of the bees! (No, not Queen Bey, but that would be pretty cool too!)
So it's no secret that I love chocolate (if you've seen my snack drawer at the office, or my cupboard at home, you'd think you were at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory!) so whenever I am out at local vendor shows, I'm always drawn into the booths with chocolate.
Just before Christmas, I attended one of many local vendor shows, and after wrangling my little one into some pictures with a photographer on site, I was ready to head on out, when I caught glimpse of Nature Made Honey's booth. Since I love honey, I stopped to check things out, and low & behold, CHOCOLATE!
Now I'm not just talking chocolate off to the side in a little bowl wrapped up in foil for people to grab as they walked on by, these little boxes of chocolates caught my eye.
Now that I've really caught your attention - chocolate + honey!
Of course, I bought some, and talked to Micheline right away about our Chocolate Affair Gala...because how unique are chocolates filled with whipped honey?! If you can believe it, I even saved some to share with my colleagues...okay I saved one. They were THAT amazing. The whipped peppermint honey was by far my fave. My colleague who was lucky enough to sample one was oohing & aahing over it as well!
Thankfully, Nature Made Honey said yes to joining our Chocolate Affair Gala! So here we are, and I asked Micheline & Frank more about what Nature Made Honey is all about!
Can you give an overview of Nature Made Honey?
Nature Made Honey is exactly that; honey made purely by nature. Our honey is 100% pure, unpasteurized wild flower honey. All our honey comes from honey bees gathering nectar from local flowers in our area. We are very proud of our hard working bees; they bring us some of the best tasting honey you will ever try.
What inspired you to work with bees?
It was something that had always peeked my husbands interest. He was looking for a hobby, and something worked out that he ending up bartering for our first hive. I basically came home to find out we were now beekeepers! With the recent decline of the bees, and some amazing feedback from friends and family who tried our honey, we thought why not get more involved and take our hobby to another level. The bees absolutely love where we are. Personally I never liked honey before, but that's because I didn't realize that most store bought honey is adulterated "fake" honey. I like to describe the difference to comparing real maple syrup vs store bought - the taste is that significant. If you don't like honey, it's probably because it's fake. We have turned many people into honey lovers because we have something for everyone.
How is it working with nature’s candy?
It's fascinating, but a lot more work than people think. It's great a lot of people want to help save the bees but we are hearing a lot of stories recently of backyard beekeepers' bees dying, mainly because they didn't understand all the work involve; they thought the bees took care of themselves. This is far from the truth and it is why we try to educate people about the beekeeping process whenever possible. If you want to know what you can do to help save the bees, reach out to a beekeeper who knows what they are doing and get the information needed before hand, otherwise sometimes it's best to just support the local businesses who are already around because we need you!
What is the hardest part about working with honey?
The hardest part is probably checking on the bees when it's extremely hot outside and all of the heavy lifting involved. It is a very time consuming process. You definitely need to be in great shape and not being allergic to bees helps! Haha ?
How many flavours of honey do you have and how often do they get changed?
We pride ourselves on doing things a little differently than most other beekeepers. It is extremely time consuming but we feel it highlights our honey in the best way possible. We actually taste all the honey boxes and separate them into different piles based on what we taste vs just extracting all the honey into one large batch. We extract and filter each batch separately allowing for the various natural flavours of honey to shine.
And when we say we have "flavours" we mean natural flavours based on which flowers our honey bees went to, that is what gives each of our honey it's distinct taste. This is often confused with other businesses who infuse their honey with flavours.
How often and what flavours we get simply comes down to 2 major things: the weather and where the bees go.
Here's some of the honey we have had. We give our honey fun names based on what we taste:
• Cotton Candy
• Tutti Frutti
We also offer a few other varieties of honey that we help out with. This is still 100% honey but we do add ingredients such as organic cinnamon, infuse flowers, our garden fresh hot peppers etc...
• Whipped Honey
• Whipped Cinnamon Honey
• Aster Flower Honey
• Candied Habanero Honey
• Candied Thai Chili Honey
What brought you to the idea of pairing honey & chocolate?
The idea came from not being able to eat certain "white foods" such as sugar and dairy and other unhealthy ingredients. I love chocolate, but I was frustrated looking at the ingredient list of all these foods that I couldn't eat simply because of so many unnecessary and unhealthy added ingredients. I have always loved mint & chocolate - so one day I had an idea. I tried it, and I was in heaven! I gave a few samples to family and they were blown away asking for more! It was hard to believe the taste was so satisfying but yet there were just clean, delicious natural ingredients. I knew others would be excited like I was to enjoy a treat and not feel bad about eating it. My mother in law knew how to make chocolates so I asked her to teach me.
What’s the best part of pairing up chocolate with your honey?
The best part is knowing you are eating something that isn't bad for you. Everything in moderation but this is simple ingredients - pure and delicious. Honey is still a natural sugar but this is raw unpasteurized honey so you are getting amazing benefits. I just love being creative and testing out new delicious flavours for people to enjoy.
What does being a local business mean for you?
My husband and I both own local businesses, so adding a third to our plate wasn't planned, it was something that just happened. I never thought something we started as a hobby would grow into so much more, but clearly the universe, our honey bees, and our clients had a different plan for us. We put funds from our sales into building and expanding our business so we can keep up with the demand for our honey. This is fun for us! We are a great team and passionate about what we do. The bees are so fascinating and we are constantly learning. We love knowing people enjoy their food and desserts that much more with something we helped create.
What made you agree to being a vendor at the Chocolate Affair Gala?
I'm a huge believer in things happening for a reason. My first vendor show that I decided to bring my chocolates to was the show that got me the invitation to the Chocolate Affair Gala. It was a huge honour hearing all companies that got involved every year and knowing it was for such an amazing cause. Even though I don't have a lot of experience with chocolate, I know what a good quality product taste like and I love that what we offer is different from what other people are doing. I decided based on all the positive feedback I received, that I had something special to offer chocolate lovers. I love learning and experimenting so being able to bring something different to the table for people to enjoy is an awesome feeling. And if we can help support other local places in the community at the same time, I'm in!
What would you say to someone who has never tasted your honey before, or the chocolates filled with nature made honey?
I would say get ready to be wow'ed! It's nice knowing you can enjoy something delicious and not feel bad about it.
What excites you the most about moving forward with chocolate & honey?
Honestly, the feedback we get from clients who tell us they have never had anything like this before. We pride ourselves on quality. Currently we have 69 "5 star" reviews from our happy clients. The support has been incredible and we are so extremely grateful. We look forward to meeting everyone!
It's pretty safe to say that we are also VERY excited about having Nature Made Honey at our Chocolate Affair Gala! Only 50 tickets remain! If you've been on the fence waiting to buy your tickets, don't hesitate much longer!