It’s not everyday that a talented chocolatier and chocolate-maker stops by bearing hand-crafted organic bean-to-bar candy, cacao soap, cacao-infused spices and nibs of dark chocolate to share. This past Holiday I was thrilled to host Kate McAleer, co-founder of Bixby & Co, located in Rockland, to share her entrepreneurial story on Maine’s Bicentennial Food Podcast.
Bixby & Co. is an organic chocolatier and chocolate-maker based in Rockland, Maine. Women owned, co-founders, Kate and her mother Donna, recently made Maine food history as the state’s first chocolate-maker of organic bean-to-bar vegan smoothie bars– innovation in chocolate making at its best!
It took hours of additional paperwork, federal and state regulations, grant-writing, demonstrations and testing in the kitchen with their talented team to innovate at this level. It didn’t come easily, but it paid off. There are only a few other organic bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the country.
The thing I love the most about Kate is her grit. Kate has won multiple entrepreneurial pitch competitions and written multiple grants to fund her business from the ground up in the last 8 years with no outside investment. She’s not afraid of the paperwork nor the regulations. She’s also not interested in an exit strategy. She’s in this for the long run and truly wants to build a chocolate company with a moral conscience. A creative collaborator, Kate recently worked on incorporating her chocolate nibs with Gelato Fiasco, Maine’s beloved gelateria. Last year, two-time James Beard award-winning chef Melissa Kelly and owner of Primo restaurant in Rockland reached out to Bixby & Co. to launch her 20th Anniversary ’20 Karat Primo Bar’ featuring Primo’s popular and addictive signature bar snack, roasted almonds with a touch of Calabrian chili and rosemary. The bar was uniquely sweet, salty but also contained spicy notes infusing the 70% dark chocolate. Hundreds of bars were produced but only 5 bars contained a hidden golden ticket.
Its fun collaborative creative experiences like these that inspire Bixby & Co. to continue embracing Maine and its community of outstanding makers while growing its brand. Kate recently collaborated with Maine’s only organic bourbon maker, Split Rock Distilling, located in Newcastle, Maine, to create a chocolate bar (Split Rock Bourbon 70% Dark Chocolate Bar.)
Bixby & Co. retail store located in downtown Rockland also houses Maine’s first bean to bar chocolate factory. The production area is fun to watch through a glass window. I stopped by with my family and enjoyed sampling our way through Pumpkin Caramels, Needhams, Maine Blueberry Jam Bonbons and Dark Chocolate Almonds. We even got lucky and got to watch a chocolatier at work. I’m sure you’ll find it hard to leave without a 2 lb dark or milk chocolate handcrafted Lobstah in your hand! For now, check out the pictures below and be sure to listen to Kate’s inspiring story on the podcast. If you can’t squeeze in a visit to Maine soon Bixby & Co. also ships its delicious candy through its website.