Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Founder & Candymaker Chris Kadow-Dougherty of Whimsical Candy, Chicago's fun original artisan candy company. Being a lover of all things caramel, I was instantly drawn to her delightful shop, where she runs a "one-woman-show" 7 days a week and everything is done by hand! Since I found Chris to be such a sweetie (pun intended), I wanted to share a bit of her inspiring story! For more information on Whimsical Candy, go to www.whimsicalcandy.com. It's worth the trip!
Please enjoy my mini "candyview" with Chris!
MJS: Why did you decide to attend the French Pastry School?
CKD: I decided to attend the French Pastry School as part of a career change. I had a great job as a fund raiser, a great boss, but I just wanted to do something more personally fulfilling. I started thinking about how I most like to spend my time, and how I could turn that into a career. My favorite past time has always been cooking and pastry, ever since I was a teenager. I can lose myself in the kitchen! At around the same time I was thinking about changing careers, my husband and I sold our house at the edge of the city, bought a condo in the Loop and I discovered the French Pastry School, one of the best programs in the world and located right in my new neighborhood. Professional pastry training just seemed like the right fit for me, and it proved to be a good move. The chefs taught me pastry technique, but also how to work in a commercial kitchen, what my options were for a life in pastry, and the basics of operating a pastry business.
MJS: What inspired you to open Whimsical Candy?
CKD: I am a lifelong candy lover! Candy is my favorite dessert. When I was three years old, I packed my suitcase and tried moving to the candy store. True story. My mother found me at the corner and brought me back home before I could realize my plans. When I was in pastry school, my last and favorite class was sugar candy and
confections. Making candy, especially nougat, is like magic. You take simple ingredients, honey, sugar and egg whites, and they magically whip up to become a delicious, chewy treat. Once I tasted really good nougat and caramel, I wanted to try to create new and better versions of the classic candies I loved growing up. That is how Whimsical Candy was born!
MJS: How did you come up with the innovative design of your signature "La-Dee-Dah's?
CKD: The shape and design of La-Dee-Dahs were inspired by the classic candy swirl we associate with pulled sugar lollipops and hard candies. I thought why not take that shape but make something chewy with nougat? A new spin on a classic American Candy bar! On average, I make 300 per day. During the holiday season, it's over 600 a day!
MJS: Where do you get inspiration for new products?
CKD: I am inspired by classic candy flavors and textures -- the bars and penny candies I grew up eating.
The difference is that we use the best ingredients and make everything by hand. Candy to me is a simple pleasure, it doesn't need to be serious. We don't do exotics and savories. We leave that to the other guys!
MJS: What makes the building Whimsical Candy is located in unique?
CKD: My kitchen and shop are located in a historic candy factory. The DeMet's Candy Company operated here from the late 1800s through the 1940s. This very building is where the original Turtle candy was made. DeMet's had many candy shops in the Loop during that time. I have the original Turtle sign that hung outside the building.
"Life is good. Candy is fun. La-Dee-Dah!" - Whimsical Candy