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NASHVILLE (WATE) - The best chocolate in America is not Hershey's or Ghiradelli, it's actually a chocolate made right here in Tennessee, according to Southern Living Magazine.
One scoop at a time and all by hand, the workers at Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company believe in doing things the old-fashioned way.
"We hand-sort, hand-feed every machine, every bar is hand-wrapped, "said owner Scott Witherow. "It is very much a labor of love for us."
Witherow took his love of food, his experience in kitchens overseas, and his Southern roots to create one unique chocolate experience.
"The robust earthy flavors that are in brown sugar marry well with the big fudgy notes as well as the acidic bright notes," he said of the final product.
Olive and Sinclair is "bean to bar" chocolate. After sorting the beans, they roast them on-site in 75 pound batches. Then they use a European technique that you just don't see every day.
"Then we put the nibs into melanger old stone mill we brought over from Spain built in 1900. I always wanted to do it that way," Witherow told us. "I wanted to do it the old-fashioned way, but they are not exactly the easiest machines to find."
Witherow's love for the old-fashioned, timeless approach is also apparent in his labels and the company's name, which is steeped in family tradition.
"Sinclair is a direct reference to my grandfather. Olive is my wife's great aunt," he said. "Again I am just a sucker for old stuff."
And as for the southern touches, all of the white chocolate is made with buttermilk, definitely a southern thing.
Olive and Sinclair also has several partnerships, including one with a name we are all too familiar with here in East Tennessee.
"We work with our friend Allen Benton in Madisonville to make Smoky Nib Brittle, work with some distilleries to make our bourbon nib brittle," he said.
But it's not just the South latching on to this chocolate.
With unique flavors like salt and pepper, Mexican cinnamon chili and coffee bean they are already shipping to 48 states and catching the attention of foodies and celebrities.
"When we first opened Gwyneth Paltrow's people called. She ordered 500, maybe 300 bars," she said.
Scott said he is truly living out a dream.
"We feel just feel blessed and honored. I make chocolate for a living. I can't really have a better job," Witherow said.
If you're interested in buying Olive and Sinclair chocolate, you can do so at their online store or at one of the unique local shops that carry their chocolate.