Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dallmann's: A Sweet Legacy

By: Catherine Gonzaga, Volunteer

For Isabella Valencia, owner of San Diego-based Dallmann Confections, making chocolate is a family affair.  Her scrumptious chocolates are full of palate pleasing pairings that are the result of age-old family recipes, the use of fine, fresh ingredients, and her own innovative flavor infusions.

Isabella opened Dallmann Confections in San Diego in 2006, but her family has been satisfying sugar cravings across the world since 1954.  Though there have been pastry chefs and chocolatiers in her family for many generations, the first of her family to open up their own shop was her grandfather, Guenther Dallmann.  In 1954, Guenther opened a small pastry shop in St. Gilgen, Austria which quickly became famous for its delicate, handmade pastries.  Due to space limitations, Guenther would create only three different pastries each day.  Nevertheless, Isabella fondly recalls looking through photo albums and seeing pictures of his shop packed full of people from all over the world.  In fact, her grandfather proudly displayed an autographed picture from Clark Gable on his walls – evidence of how word of his fine pastries had spread far and wide.  That small shop has since closed and has been replaced by a much larger shop that is run by her parents.

Despite being raised in a pastry shop, Isabella did not grow up with dreams of carrying on the family business. Because she is friendly and clever, her parents asked her to help run the front of the shop in Austria, and she never really got her hands dirty in the kitchen much.  She then came to Southern California as a student of Hotel and Restaurant Management.  However, after a few years in the industry managing a gourmet store in Downtown San Diego, Isabella decided she wanted a career change.

Isabella flew back home to Austria and spent months in the kitchen learning the family craft from her parents.  After only a few days up to her elbows in pastry flour and chocolate, she had fallen in love.  So, she returned to California and continued her training until she was ableto develop her own line and open Dallmann Confections.  At first, she rented commercial kitchen space, working hard to first sell her product and then hand-make each order on her own.  Eventually, through the success of the business and with the help of her parents, she was able to purchase her own kitchen space – but she was still only selling her product online or through direct sales.

Isabella took out an ACCION SD loan to expand her business by designing and opening a chocolate boutique in the Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar.  The retail space, Dallmann Fine Chocolate Boutique, not only sells Dallmann Confections products, but also hosts a number of classes and tasting events that educate people on creative ways to pair chocolate with other foods, or even make their own chocolate!  Since receiving the ACCION loan, Isabella has hired four people to work in the retail space to help her meet the increased demand for her product.  She has also worked with local culinary schools to create educational internships that allow students to come study her work in the kitchen.

Isabella’s favorite and most popular creations include the sea salt caramel truffle and the crunchy almond wafers that are coated in milk chocolate.  A visit to her chocolate boutique may include a taste of these favorites, as well as any of her five different chocolate bars, a tantalizingly tasty drinking chocolate, or one of her crisp French macaroons.

After my visit with Isabella, the visions of sugar plums that normally dance through my head this time of year have been replaced by daydreams of chai-spice truffles and lavender-infused dark chocolate bars. And now's your chance to try some of Isabella's creations at a special price! Dallmann Confections is offering a 10% discount in-stores and online to those who mention ACCION San Diego until January 1. For online purchases, use code 'ACCION'. 

Dallmann Fine Chocolates
2670 Via De La Valle, Ste. A270
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 720-1933
For the month of December, Get 10% off your order when you mention ACCION San Diego in-store or use “ACCION” as a coupon code on-line! Dec. 1 - Jan. 1.

1 comment:

  1. That's a good thing that you have your own small business. I wish you the best of luck in the near future. Keep up the good work.