Driving down winding, tree-lined Stevenson Road, one may zip past the quaint, quiet and busy Shops at Stevenson Village.
But located in this small gem of shopping center is The Velvet Chocolatier, owned by Ruthie Penn-Carliner. Ruthie became the owner of Penn Pontiac-GMC Subaru in 1997 until its sale in 2007.
So … what motivated the owner of a car dealership to become a “chocolate chef?"
After the sale of the car business, Ruthie’s family (three children and a husband) strongly encouraged her to enroll in culinary school and make chocolates.
“It’s very relaxing and fun, being a chocolatier,” said Ruthie.
The chocolate boutique sits on the corner just at the entrance to the Village. The red door and 'The Velvet Chocolatier' welcome mat invite chocolate lovers to come inside this sweet treat shop.
Behind those doors are chocolate barks (slabs of smooth chocolate with almonds), toffee, truffles and more, which are made for private parties, corporations and distribution to the Whole Foods Market, Graul’s Market, Eddie’s Market of Charles Village and Michigan State University in upstate Michigan.
Amy Rudolph is the chocolate apprentice at the Velvet Chocolatier. Amy gave me a tour of the kitchen and the packing and preparation area. There were tempering machines, ingredients, bags, boxes and more.
Like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka, I wanted one of everything—not a good idea!
“We hold demos at Whole Foods and Graul’s in Baltimore and Virginia on local vendor days,” said Amy.
This is great to know for those who want to indulge their palates before purchasing these delightful and decadent treats. All of the chocolates are made with kosher ingredients.
“Customers seem to really like the toffee bark,” said both the chocolate chef and her apprentice.
So, what’s in a name?
“My good friend since junior high school thought of the name, which describes my chocolates,” said Ruthie.
After completing courses at a Baltimore culinary school and having incredible private instruction, Ruthie attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
“This is my first entrepreneurial venture since selling my car dealership,” she said.
Ruthie has built another business from the ground-up and has sprinkled the sweet confections throughout regional markets and venues as far west as Michigan.
If you miss some of the in-store demonstrations, The Velvet Chocolatier is open to retail customers on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
For more information about sweets and treats for catering, parties and wholesale orders, please call 410.365.9883, or email email@example.com.