The drive for excellence on the local food scene comes in many flavors, and displays of edible art even pop up at the end of a meal. This is certainly evident at Crème de la Cocoa in St. Augustine, a confections company that aims to set a new standard for desserts and chocolate creations.
What started as a deal with his parents at age 13 – if they bought the food, he would do the cooking – turned into a profession and passion for Nils Rowland, pastry chef and chocolatier at Crème de la Cocoa, located in DOS Coffee and Wine. After obtaining his degree in Hospitality Management at UCF, Nils decided to continue his education at a pastry school in Orlando – and lucky for us, he stuck with it. Now Nils is on a mission to demonstrate that the importance of knowing who makes your food -- and how they make it -- also applies to dessert.
With an eye to their bottom line, many hotels and restaurants these days are relying on purchased desserts, rather than employing an in-house baker. “Pastry chefs are a dying breed,” states Nils, though his creations in the display case at Crème de la Cocoa tell a different story. And Nils has a vision that extends beyond his current location. By providing his desserts to local dining establishments and gradually building his wedding and special events business, Nils hopes to become recognized as the best pastry chef in Northeast Florida.
He's off to a good start too. Several area hotels and country clubs have signed up to purchase his desserts, and winning a handful of local culinary competitions has helped solidify his reputation as a chocolatier. While he continues to put his own spin on classics, Nils remains focused on offering unique, high quality desserts.
“Honestly, it’s fun,” he said with a smile. “I get to come in and make stuff taste better every day, and make people happy.”
Now, that’s what we call hospitality.