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Our Blog: Chocolate Talk

Head chocolatier Joya Wade finds home in the kitchen

In the past five years, wanderlust has struck Joya Wade on multiple occasions, steering her away from her home in Milwaukee, Wis., to her family-in-need in Rochester and even to a cacao and coffee farm in the mountaintops of Hawaii. Wade, back in Flower City for nearly two straight years, has finally found a home, not in a place, but in her work.

Since staying in the South Wedge, she has been able to satisfy her traveling itch not by actually relocating to different areas, but by bringing those different areas into her kitchen. Wade spends her days making caramels, truffles, bark and ice cream for us with original recipes, such as toffee, caramel popcorn, black sesame miso ice cream and Irish ale ice cream. She also recently became a brunch service line cook at The Owl House.

Artisan chocolate, ice cream or even cooking was never originally included in her future, though. Growing up, Wade dreamed of becoming a hairstylist or a fashion designer – creative things, the 23-year-old recalls – but after seeing some of the uglier sides of the fashion industry, she focused on how her love for gardening and even turned to radical environmentalism.

“I knew I was always interested in growing food, but I realized that while gardening is cool and growing your own food is cool, if you don't know how to use it, then all of that means nothing,” she said.

Wade found her first gardening experience with FoodLink where she managed a farm stand, as well as with Seedfolk City Farm, where she interned. Now, she continues to learn new plant-based cooking strategies everyday by listening to podcasts, testing out different flavor combinations at Hedonist and creating strong sauces to spice up vegetables that can tend to taste bland.

Wade isn’t keeping the knowledge completely to herself, stating, “With the whole revival of farmer’s markets and gardening and more vegetable power, I really wanted to empower the people around me.” This includes high school students who receive internships through RochesterWorks! and spend a portion of their summers getting a taste of working in the artisan shops.

Wade has found that it is most empowering to teach someone how to take ingredients and make a delicious meal out of them. And for her, it’s best amongst family and friends where feeding a group of loved ones produces a “pride that is unmatchable.”

“There are just a lot of feelings that people give to food – comfort food, having dinner at a table, or not having dinner at a table, just chilling on the floor eating pizza with your friends. All this – food just gives us so many feelings and usually it’s good feelings,” she said. “I really love that and I really want to dedicate more of my time to that.” rf

Wade, alongside chocolatier Janiqwa Campbell, hope to open a catering business with craft cocktails at some point in the future.  

 

 
Pleasure, handcrafted. Hedonist Artisan Chocolates are handmade with fresh ingredients to give as gifts or indulge yourself.
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