Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Custom chocolate comes to Korea

Ol' Blue Eyes did it his way, and Shakespeare provided a buffet of romantic expression in "As You Like It." Now, the build-it-yourself bliss of custom-crafted chocolate I experienced two years ago from Germany can be embraced via a Korean confectioner.

The Chocolate Factory, a new Seoul-based chocolatier, recently introduced itself to Joe McPherson of ZenKimchi Food Journal, for which I write regularly.

"Chocolate has been getting big in Seoul," he said.

It must be big enough that an enterprising entrepreneur took a big risk to bring customized chocolate bars to the Korean market.

I wrote a post a couple of years ago about an up and coming custom chocolatier called Chocri. (Chocolate, after all, is in women's genes. Though my mitochondrial DNA actually comes from western Asia and Europe.) The German-based company had just started selling to North America via the Internet.

Chocri's marketing campaign, innovative at the time, actively sought food bloggers for buzz, enticing them with lots of good customer service (including access to the same press-quality photos normally reserved for "mainstream media").

I asked Chocri representative whether the company would be marketing in Korea and the rest of Asia in the near future. The answer was no. Today, the company ships only to Europe, Canada and the U.S., according to its website.

Were it to consider expanding to Korea now, Chocri would find The Chocolate Factory setting the standard in Korea for customized chocolates.

Based on ZenKimchi's review of The Chocolate Factory, its marketing is heading in the right direction with a customer-friendly, Korean and English website. The company offers a long list of toppings, including toppings that are otherwise very difficult to find in Korea.

The Chocolate Factory prices are comparable with Chocri's — a pricey yet affordable luxury. Koreans and expats living there no longer have to feel deprived of a custom-chocolate experience.

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