Largo Chocolatier Finds Recipe For Success, Looks To Hire More Workers

Sri Lankan chai. Grapefruit and tarragon. Pear and ginger. Strawberry balsamic. Lemon and lavender. What do these unique combinations have in common? Well, when it comes to William Dean, the commonality is chocolate.

Based in Largo, William Dean Chocolates takes exquisite and exotic flavors and blends them into artistically crafted, handmade chocolate treats. Founded in 2007, and named after founder William (Bill) Dean Brown's father (William) and grandfather (Dean). Brown credits both his father and grandfathers as being influencers in the launch of his business.

How does one become a chief chocolate officer, as Brown is tastefully labeled? By following his dreams. Brown was in upper management at Ceridian in St. Petersburg when he started exploring the world of chocolate. While he really enjoyed his corporate job, he left his well-paying career to pursue his passion. He traveled to different cities, networked with chocolatiers and got the wheels moving on his business.

Jokingly Brown admits that sometimes the blends come about by accident, but usually he is inspired by the flavors in foods he experiences and enjoys, sometimes mixing fruits, herbs and other ingredients. "I think it's interesting to have a start and finish to it," says Brown, noting that fruit is usually the first flavor tasted and herbs provide the last, finishing taste.

Most recently, William Dean Chocolates won 12 awards at the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon on March 20, 2010. Eleven of those awards were for first place out of more than 60 chocolate gurus. William Dean Chocolates has produced sweets for TeavanaAria Resort and Casino and Bellagio. Locally the sweets can be found in their chocolate studio at 12551 Indian Rocks Road, Suite 1; Datz Deli in South Tampa and Bella Vino Wines in Belleair Bluffs.

"Datz only carries the finest specialty food items that can be found anywhere. We were looking for chocolates in particular and were so surprised to find that one of the hottest award-winning chocolatiers in the country was right up the street!" says Suzanne Perry, owner of Datz Deli. "We knew we had made the right choice when Bill Brown called personally from Paris to ask me if my first order was OK – and then stopped in to check after landing back in Tampa. His flavors are so amazing and the chocolates so beautiful that we have customers lined up to buy them right out of the boxes as they arrive. My favorite so far has got to be the Rosemary Caramel. Savory, sweet decadence!"

In 2009, William Dean Chocolates saw revenue increases of almost 80 percent, and they expect to expand over the next few months. Brown anticipates that they'll be hiring as well, providing job opportunities for other chocolate lovers in the Tampa Bay region.

Writer: Nancy Vaughn
Sources: William (Bill) Dean Brown, William Dean Chocolates; Suzanne Perry, Datz Deli
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