Santa Clara based chocolatier Charlotte Walter has more in mind than making truffles and bonbons. While some may not see the connection, her goal is to combine chocolate-making with multiculturalism.
“I started Charlotte Truffles because I did not see a chocolate shop that truly represented my multicultural background story in a proud and consistent way,” Walter said.
“At the time, most chocolate shops did not carry any Southeast Asian, German or Chinese flavors in their shop, and if they did, it would be a very small percentage of their collection,” recalled Walter.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to start a food business, and I knew that when I did, flavors of my multicultural background would be at the center stage of our shop,” she continued. “Not only that, I want the shop to be a comfortable place for people to reconnect with all of their multifaceted cultural stories through chocolates.”
For some, the relationship between culture and chocolate may not be obvious.
“Conversations and connections are very often done around food,” Walter explained. “Flavors and aroma have an incredible power of being able to transport us back to a specific moment in time.
“So, we want to do the same and connect with our community through food, and for us it’s chocolates,” continued Walter. “Because each flavor is rooted from classical cultural flavor, each flavor has a specific cultural story and connections with people.
“These chocolates will spark cultural curiosity, connections, and discussions.”
The flavors of chocolate offered at Walter’s store range from Vietnamese Coffee to Mexican Hot Chocolate to Raspberry Yuzu. They reflect not only the chocolatier’s multicultural origins but the fusion of the most diverse cultures during a time of unparalleled globalization.
Walter, who came to the US at the age of 8, views her childhood experiences as empowering, despite her challenges as an immigrant in a new environment.
“For anyone who has ever joined a developed community, whether that’s starting a new job or joining a new gym, you can understand the feeling of just being at the outer edge of the group,” said Walter. “For me, I needed to not only adapt to a new school in the middle of the school year but also learn a new language and overcome a new culture while trying to build new roots in a new country.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve embraced more than just my immigrant story but also my multicultural background,” continued Walter. “I overcame a challenge and I learned to accept myself as is.”
Besides chocolate, another thing that has helped Walter through the challenges of multiculturalism is books.
“I turn to books to find solace and to feel comfort,” she said. “I am attracted to writers and characters who are trying to determine their own sense of belonging between multiple cultures. I’m also attracted to characters who are being sandwiched between a very traditional generation and a generation who is very Americanized.
“For me, characters in a book allow for me to fully understand the nuance and the complex journey of living at the intersection of multiple cultures in a more intellectual and emotional way,” continued Walter.
Chocolates have become a conduit for how the Santa Clara business owner connects with her clients.
“[They] allow me to connect with others in an emotional way that’s deep and extremely personal,” said Walter. “In other words, our flavors can transcend our customers to a specific moment in their childhood. And it evokes such happy and joyful memories.
“There is something incredibly beautiful in sharing someone’s experience through chocolates and flavors,” Walter said.
You can find the Santa Clara based Charlotte Truffles online at charlottetruffles.com.