Chocolatier Constance Popp: Cocoa Queen
Constance Popp's signature beer and chocolate combinations topped with peanuts, pretzels and rock salt and bacon.
NOTE: As of August 2013, Popp has relocated her store to 180 Provencher Boulevard in St. Boniface. For more information visit artisanchocolates.ca.
Constance Menzies’ enthusiasm for her life's work is infectious.
As chief chocolatier and proprietor of one of Winnipeg's premier chocolate shops, Chocolatier Constance Popp, Menzies is devoted to making the best chocolates around.
She opened her boutique four years ago after switching careers. She has a masters degree in natural resources development but chocolate is where her real passion lay.
Menzies, whose maiden name is Popp, started making chocolates in her free time and then decided to do it all the time.
Her chocolates, business acumen and commitment to the Manitoba food industry also have earned her several awards. Her chocolates have also been given to movie stars visiting the gift suites at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.
Chocolate is Menzies' life. In her Portage Avenue boutique, she breathlessly describes her ingredients and challenges you to pick a favourite chocolate.
The challenge is impossible to meet.
After nibbling bite after bite from the dozen presented, I can't decide. It's like picking a favourite child.
She feeds me a chocolate with lemon cream; a dark chocolate heart loaded with caramel and capped with milk chocolate; a dark chocolate with maple-syrup cream; a chai tea buddha chocolate; her signature Manitobar and three-beer infused chocolates.
(On some excellent advice from an @PegCityGrub Twitter follower, I also took home a bag of chocolate-covered roasted almonds for good measure. The almonds are roasted in house, chocolate dipped and dusted in cocoa powder.)
Menzies uses the finest Belgian chocolate and is devoted to using Manitoba ingredients wherever she can from flax seed to hemp to local maple syrup.
She also loves experimenting with ingredients and flavour combinations. Her more recent creations include Manitoba beer truffles. The "manly" chocolate truffles use two locally brewed ales and a lager along and are topped with combinations of peanuts, pretzels, sea salt and bacon. (A six-pack cost $18.)
On the average day, Menzies stocks about 75 different chocolates including truffles, bars, coins, barks, chocolate-covered almonds and chocolate-formed gifts like a leaning tower of Pisa, Yorkie dogs, golf balls and stilettos, among other shapes. Her individual chocolates cost between $2.25 to $2.50 each.
Around the holidays (Easter, Christmas and Mother's Day), she makes about 150 varieties.