For Dorinda Vance, it started early on in life. As a 12 year-old girl, she learned to make crave-inducing, chocolate-covered cherries. That skill ignited a passion in Vance that eventually steered her toward learning the art and refining the science of chocolate.

The mother of four boys, she homeschooled her sons until they reached high school.

When her last two sons were in 7th and 8th grade, Vance decided to pursue her dream and love for chocolate. She first attended Ecole Chocolat in San Francisco before traveling to Chicago for further hands-on education at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy.

From there, she fine-tuned the process, putting her own artisanal touch on the craft and winning “People’s Choice” and “Most Original Taste” awards at a Lake Tahoe chocolate competition for her Sea Salt Caramels. Those acccolades earned her the title, “Duchess of Chocolate.” Shortly thereafter, Vance opened her first storefront in Truckee, Calif., with her son, Dustin, joining her to help run the business.

“We pride ourselves on being true chocolatiers because we only use the very best and purest ingredients, such as Valrhona Chocolate from France, and we still hand-temper our chocolates — a process which requires tremendous time and skill to learn to do perfectly,” Vance says. “The hand-tempering process is truly a science, but the art is in the resulting flavors and presentation.”

Recently, she moved her shop to a picturesque Truckee River location in nearby Reno, and opened her second storefront in Squaw Valley, Calif.

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If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?

Tall, dark and handsome… chocolate that is.

What’s the last book you read?

Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner by Peter P. Greweling.

What is your pet peeve?

I wish chocolate didn’t have any calories!

What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?

Keeping the small artisan chocolatier in business; the cost of making chocolates using fresh ingredients; and maintaining a high standard while still competing in the market.

If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Follow your dream, do what you love.

What excites you most about your job?

Being knee-deep in chocolate every day!