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Curry and Glitter

Curry and Glitter

Jack McLaughlin

Coco Cat has what you need for the sweetest month

OK, listen, Valentine’s Day is this month, we know. But what we’re about to tell you is good for any day, any month, of any year—and that’s chocolate.

More specifically, Coco Cat Bakery & Chocolates.

This Columbus confectionery has been around since 2013 and its voluminous list of offerings just keeps growing. From spiced and infused chocolates to a speciality product called Glitter Berries, the diverse inventory is bound to help you find the perfect treat for your special someone.

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For example, white chocolate infused with Jamaican curry or dark chocolate infused with smoky paprika and garlic—talk about savory and sweet. Then there are the truffles featuring Jameson Irish Whiskey and ginger and the Honey lavender caramels dipped in white chocolate.

And just what about those Glitter Berries? For chocolate dipped fruit lovers, you can’t go wrong with these strawberries bedecked in different colors of a dazzlingly-bright, sugar-based glitter.

According to Coco Cat founder and owner Melissa Camp, it was a familiarity with cooking and her proclivity for robust seasoning and bold flavors instilled at a young age that led her to the wild, bold creations for which the business is known.

“When I was growing up my parents both cooked, did gourmet club, and had fancy parties where they’d make Baked Alaska and all of that stuff,” said Camp, who speaks with all of the passion and effervescence one would expect from the mind behind Coco Cat. “So my siblings and I just had full reign of the kitchen; as early as I remember we were cooking pies, trying to make hamburgers taste like Mcdonald’s hamburgers.”

These instincts eventually led to the first-ever Coco Cat creation, the now-iconic herb infused truffles. These were first sold at a farmer’s market the better part of a decade ago and quickly launched the company into prominence.

And it’s Camp’s deeply culinary approach to chocolate, her willingness to daringly combine flavors until something fantastic and wholly unique happens, that truly makes Coco Cat stand out. 

“Having a rigid knowledge of which flavors work together can limit things. When I’m cooking, that’s when the creativity comes in, and having a trained chef looking over your shoulder can be a bad thing,” she said. “A lot of what I do is definitely by sense more than anything. Opening up those spice jars and smelling them together, I just know sometimes what’s going to work.”

So once her herbed truffles became a smash hit, they opened the door to volumes of other creations, each as original and delicious as the last.

“Once I started making [the herb-infused truffles], all of a sudden everything sort of clicked. Art and chemistry came together, and it was almost reckless abandon going forward,” said Camp, who has used mustard, smoke, and tarragon in her chocolate. “Once I had perfected those I started bringing truffles to art openings and other events, and people sort of started flipping out over them. ‘These are flavors we’ve never even thought about before,’ a lot of people would say.”

But Coco Cat works with more than just chocolate and caramels.

In 2019, Camp was approached by the nationally-popular Shari’s Berries to serve as a fulfiller for the brand. 

“It was never part of the plan, but we decided to take it on, and thank goodness we did,” she said.

Not only does this work help keep Coco Cat afloat (they transitioned from their North Market location last year to a Food Fort 2.0 kitchen to focus more on their online sales, which have been an increasingly larger portion of their revenue in recent years), it also allowed Camp and company to take on what is arguably the Holy Grail of Valentine’s Day treats: chocolate-dipped fruit.

“These strawberries just came to our brain; I said ‘we can make these so beautiful and artful,’” Camp said. “I started doing berries dipped in white chocolate with candied oranges and hibiscus.”

And thus berries done Coco Cat-style were born. The confectioners now sell a wide variety of dipped and adorned fruit, as well as the aforementioned Glitter Berries.

And while not officially on the menu yet, Camp has some other potential game-changers on the docket, with the potential inclusion of dipped raspberries and cherries.

“It’s about just continuing to develop new ideas, to pivot and bring new things to customers,” she said. “But my brain is so full, I have these ideas lined up like they’re in a parking lot. There are still so many things I want to do.”

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