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Meet Johna Nilson of So Rich! Chocolates, in Vista

Today we’d like to introduce you to Johna Nilson.

Johna’s passion began in the kitchen at a young age in the shadow of her Grandmother, Gourmet Cook and Flavor Mentor, affectionately referred to as OMA. This was the beginning of her understanding of flavors and technique.

While going through college, Johna took on the job of confectioner in a small chocolate shop in Newport Beach, California. Not only was this an opportunity to work in a kitchen; but also to develop a new craft- that of confections.

Once married and with children, Johna would use her craft in confections to create gifts during the holidays for family and friends. With a vision to instill a spirit of entrepreneurship in her children, in 2011 she founded So Rich! Chocolates.

As Johna’s creations became more sophisticated, so did her taste. She realized that many of the complex flavors in her chocolates paired beautifully with wine, beer, saki, and even whiskey.

Currently, Johna continues to develop her craft of invention in new flavors with local brewers and winemakers throughout Southern California.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My first struggle was in obtaining knowledge of pairing without going out to breweries and wineries every night. I was able to accumulate a good library of resources to learn more about my craft. Along the way, I was able to establish a mentorship relationship with Dr. Bill Sysak, master of pairings. He has helped me to approach pairing in a totally new way and has been an incredible support.

At the beginning, my approach to pairing, especially with Craft Beer, was a hard sell; however, I have established myself locally and people are starting to understand that chocolate and beer is an amazing pairing. Of course I still work in wine, spirits and cigars; however, Craft Beer is definitely what drives my creativity and inspiration. I feel that my family is in the Craft Beer Industry.

Once I was able to establish a bit of my knowledge, the challenge of prioritizing my family and homeschooling with my business became difficult. At this point, time management is my biggest struggle since I am unwilling to give up my homeschooling and taking care of my family the way I want to. Fitting in chocolate production and then following with making dinner and lunches has not always been easy; however, that is the only way I will continue in my business. I have amazing support from my husband, who is also an entrepreneur (Hard Wood Flooring Business and a Builder).

We’d love to hear more about your business.
The Mission:
So Rich! Chocolates is committed to keeping the craft of candy making and confections alive. Every recipe is created with care using the highest of quality ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible. Each piece is hand dipped and promises to deliver unique flavors created by ingredients found only in their natural state. All chocolate used is Fair Trade, and made locally in California.

The Flavors:
Classic flavors such as caramels and toffees are made with real butter and whipping cream; while spices of Chipotle, The Ghost Chile and the Scorpion are combined to create a perfect contrast of sweet and spicy with hints of salt. Specializing in custom made chocolates, flavors are constantly being developed and invented. The philosophy is “You think of it, and we’ll do it!!!”

The Pairings:
So Rich! Chocolates specializes in pairing with Craft Beer, Wines and Spirits. Collaborations of the crafts of confections, brewing and wine making are the perfect opportunity to elevate experiences of the palette and educate about flavor profiles and styles found locally in Southern California.

What were you like growing up?
One of the biggest influences on my life was my grandmother. She was raised working in her parent’s restaurant and was an amazing Gourmet cook. I always loved being in the kitchen with her and she never worked without explaining what she was doing, why she was chopping the way she was, what flavors she was expecting to get as a result, etc. This mentorship sparked a passion in me about food and creativity in the kitchen. I am inspired not only in creating new flavors; but also in sharing them with other enthusiasts of flavors and pairing. This meshes perfectly with Wine and the Craft Beer Industry. My creativity in my work and how I approach pairing is driven by a constant outpour of new and amazing wines and beers appearing locally all the time. I use my background, not only in the craft of chocolate; but also in my understanding of cuisines, flavors, ingredients, etc. I approach my craft of confection more as a foodie than a candy maker. Because I have always loved people, the joy of what I do happens when I am actually able to share what I do with other people while elevating another local craft such as beer, wine, cigars, etc.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.sorichchocolates.com
  • Phone: 7607165014
  • Email: johna@sorichchocolates.com
  • Instagram: Sorichchocolates
  • Facebook: so rich chocolates
  • Twitter: sorichocolates

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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