A worldly collection of tapestries, ceramics and paintings glow in warm yellow light, while classical melodies glide through the bright display case brimming with chocolates that look almost too delicate to devour. Even traditional milk, dark and white bites dress up under intricate gold leaves or white snowflakes imprinted on the glossy bon-bons.
At Canady Le Chocolatier, one can satiate a desire for chocolate and pumpkin simultaneously with a Pumpkin Pie Truffle, or settle another craving with more than seventy sweet, even spicy, confections.
Holiday suggestions include Amerena Ganache, Creme de Tiramisu and truffles with pistachio, mint, cheesecake or red pepper. Praline and coconut mingle in chocolate ganache; hazelnut blends with caramel butter cream in a Dolce de Leche; toffee bits sweeten the slight kick of a red pepper ganache. Mix and match a personalized assortment—one or two, one pound or two pounds.
“It’s totally up to the customer,” says owner and chocolatier Michael Canady, whose demeanor matches the serenity of his store. “I get the opportunity to experiment once in a while [with flavors], and I like that. It’s always nice to come up with new recipes.”
A previous oil-industry employee, Canady, while living in Switzerland, developed an affinity (in his words, a convenient hobby) for not just relishing the taste of chocolate, but preferring the creation of it. He studied under native Swiss chocolatiers in Lucerne, before planning the move back to the States seven years ago with a ship-shape business plan in hand.
“I thought I had planned pretty well before I left,” Canady says. “I had been abroad for a long time. There are times even today that I wish I was still abroad. But I felt it was time to return and see what I could do here.”
Canady did return to his hometown Chicago and landed a convenient space next to a floral shop on Wabash Avenue. With the assistance of four pastry professionals and a few reliable retail workers, Canady Le Chocolatier has been creating handmade artisan chocolates and gelato, which helps diversify the wide array of flavors in the chocolates, for over six years.
Acknowledging the slimming number of limited resources spent on luxuries—and Canady’s chocolates are nothing short of luxurious, in taste and appearance—Canady has endured the pinch of a tight economy along with his customers. Nonetheless, he anticipates a fruitful holiday season, even reaching to Valentine’s Day in February.
“These significant holidays tend to bring people back,” explains Canady. “When you see them, you wonder, ‘Well, where have you been?!’ It speaks volumes of what is actually occurring, because even without a lot of money, people find enough to buy a significant other a gift.”
One of the store’s trademarks, in fact, is the giftability of its boxes. While living abroad, Canady developed quite the social base in Thailand. He and friends in Chiang Mai designed the gift boxes with a handmade, creamy-colored Thai parchment paper called Saa, and pressed them with rosy orchid and forest green vines.
Canady regularly contacts and annually visits his friends abroad, particularly his Swiss chocolatier mentors. “When I have a question,” he says, “I call them.” Now, six days a week, Canady leads four-hour intensive confection-creation classes on location, in the shop’s candy kitchen.
“It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it, especially when the days are cold and the days are long. I feel comfortable doing it. I think I know what I’m talking about.” (Kristine Sherred)
Canady Le Chocolatier, Ltd. 824 South Wabash, (312)212-1270, 131 North Clinton (French Market), (312)454-8700. canadylechocolatierchicago.com.