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Kansas City's iconic Christopher Elbow considers himself an 'accidental chocolatier'

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A box holds four elaborately designed morsels of chocolate. Behind it are to box tops designed with cream and brown detail. One reads "Christopher Elbow Chocolates."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Christopher Elbow has selected four of his favorite chocolates for a special KCUR box.

Christopher Elbow opened Christopher Elbow Chocolates in 2003. After two decades, he's producing 25 tons of chocolate per year and shows no signs of slowing down.

If you talk about chocolate in Kansas City, there’s a good chance Christopher Elbow's name will come to mind.

The renowned chef and chocolatier is a Kansas City native and owner of Christopher Elbow Chocolates.

Elbow says he considers himself an "accidental chocolatier." He started as a line cook at a country club in his hometown Liberty, Missouri. In 1999, he moved to Las Vegas to work under chef Emeril Lagasse in Delmonico Steakhouse’s pastry department.

“I kind of said, 'Well, this gets my foot in the door, so sure I'll put some time in there,’” Elbow says. “But, I ended up never going back to cooking savory food. I fell in love with desserts, pastries, baking and, of course, chocolate.”

Now, people all around the world can purchase Elbow’s chocolates online or at locations in Kansas City and San Francisco. As of March, his chocolates can be found in Kansas City’s new airport terminal — a project he says he’s been thrilled about.

“I was very excited about this for Kansas City, not just for the opportunity that we have to have our product there, but what it means to Kansas City in the business community,” Elbow says.

Many chocolate lovers don't know how chocolate is actually made, but Elbow hopes to change that. He's making plans for "The Christopher Elbow Cacao Experience," where people can get a deeper look into the origins of chocolate and see the chocolate-making process starting with raw cacao beans.

Elbow joined KCUR's Up To Date to discuss responsible sourcing of cacao beans, his approach to combining other flavors with his favorite ingredient, and how non-experts can steer clear of junk when shopping for something to satisfy a chocolate craving.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As an assistant producer on Up To Date, my goal is to amplify voices of people who serve as pioneers in their respective fields while shedding light on issues that affect underserved communities. I produce daily conversations to uplift and inspire the people of the Kansas City area to make the world a better place. You can reach me at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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