For our November 2017 meeting, Joe Dutra, President of Kimmie Candy treated members of The Hayek Group to a sweet tour of his candy factory.
In addition to candy, we celebrated several local treasures of culinary entrepreneurial decadence. After a soul soothing feast in classic southern comfort food provided by Carolina BBQ, local start up Winey Munkies wowed us with spirited custom wine ice cream creations.
Entering the factory, we walked through an invisible curtain of hypnotic chocolate smell. In rooms full of what look like giant mixers taken off of cement trucks, Joe enlightened us on the manufacturing process of panned chocolates. Layers upon layers of chocolate are built up as the confections roll in the mixers.
Joe’s candy creations involve a much more artisanal, hand crafted process than a fully automated process. This was evident as Joe showed us how giant bricks of chocolate are hand chiseled into chocolate boulders.
The candy making business comes with challenges that aren’t always sweet and magical. The bureaucratic red tape Joe perpetually endures requires a hybrid character somewhere between Iron Man and Job. Being harassed with cease and desist orders for not installing a jaw dropping expensive grease trap when his factory produces no grease is one example. US sugar subsidies that make producing candy in the United Sates and creating American jobs prohibitively expensive are another example. Joe’s persistence through these challenges enriches our community through much more than just delicious chocolates, local jobs and economic growth. Joe generously mentors up and coming entrepreneurs, helping many successfully navigate this challenging path, including having mentored our own Hayek Group President – Elect, Brian Allman.