Steveston’s Favourite Little Chocolate Shop
In 2011 a sign sprung up at the corner of Chatham Street and No. 1 Road announcing the imminent opening of Sinfully the Best. Always interested to know what is going on in our community, Steveston Insider thought this new business had plenty of potential judging by its name. An artisan chocolate shop, yes please!
Sinfully the Best’s owner Cathy Cheung grew up in Mississauga, which she says had in those days a small town feel much like Steveston. She trained as a pastry chef at Ryerson University although she did not end up working in the industry. Her other interest was business, which led to her career as an accountant, yet chocolate continued to remain her passion.
Her dream of opening a chocolate shop germinated many years ago. Cheung patiently waited for a suitable location to create outstanding bonbons. In August 2010 she found the corner shop and knew it was time to execute her plan. While Cheung is modest about the success of the business she did confess that the shop was recently awarded Best Chocoholic Experience in Richmond (Richmond News Reader’s Choice Award).
Anita Schultz, who admits to having a weakness for chocolate, remembers feeling excited when she saw the sign in the window announcing the new business. She came from an extensive career in retail and was eager to introduce herself to Cheung. Schultz was promptly hired as manager and has been serving customers since the store opened in May 2011. She is passionate about the product and is thrilled to have the opportunity to sell it.
The little chocolate shop went through an expansion approximately a year after opening. Remarkably, all of the production was conducted up front until that time. The kitchen is now located at the far end of the shop and offers the four full-time chocolatiers more room to create their edible works of art. Cheung oversees the chocolate production and develops new recipes. Most of the staff has cross-trained to assist in the kitchen or in retail, wherever help is required.
Part of Sinfully the Best’s company philosophy is to share their passion. To uphold this mandate the shop offers classes for small groups of five to seven participants. Local executive pastry chef, Charles Massion, was eager to team up with the chocolate shop to share his expertise. He instructs the interactive sessions on select Sundays throughout the year, and depending on the class you register for you, will learn how to make chocolate or a decadent dessert. A fringe benefit, participants take home their creations.
Cheung says over the years she has been fortunate to work with a number of great employers and mentors. In turn, she relies heavily on her staff and their expertise; in fact all of her employees receive an opportunity to attend a three-day course at Montreal’s Academy of Chocolate. While there, they tour the facility where one million pounds of chocolate is produced daily.
The first thing customers remark upon when they walk through the door is the friendly service, along with an extra special touch, they greet you with a warm welcome along with a treat to sample. All of the products are made on site, which Cheung believes makes a big difference. In addition, Cheung points out no preservatives, additives or artificial flavours are used.
They are able to produce small custom batches (think special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries) allowing customers to personalize their selection of flavours, fillings and shapes. Sinfully the Best also has the ability to produce logos and monograms. They are happy to create unique orders. Chueng recalls making two chocolate champagne glasses in celebration of a 50th wedding anniversary. She says the happy couple drank champagne from the chocolate flutes and then ate them.
Women flock to Sinfully the Best on Girls’ Night Out (a Steveston Merchants Association event). It is such a popular night that customers request being notified as soon as the next date is announced. Almost all holidays have a connection to chocolate, however Christmas and Easter are particularly busy times at the shop. One of their most popular items is the passion fruit ganache heart. Many customers come in specifically to purchase this chocolate with its tart and tropical taste. Another top pick is the lemon in a dark ganache with an underlying flavour of lavender.
Chocolate houses are one of their top selling items year round. The chocolatiers will happily add your address or family name to your ‘home.’ They have customized houses for weddings, beach houses, and real estate agents enjoy ordering them for clients as house warming gifts. At $17.95 this is the cheapest (and best tasting) real estate you will ever purchase.
Another wonderful gift idea is the chocolate box, which can be filled with Sinfully the Best treats such as their delicious soft caramels (these are not filling puller outers!) or bonbons. More than one gentleman has been inspired to place a piece of jewellery inside a chocolate box, an almost sure fire winner if you are brainstorming a romantic wedding proposal. The chocolate box is a mere $6, what you put inside is up to you.
New this holiday season, mini solid chocolates (both dark and milk are available) in the shape of champagne bottles are packaged in sets of six and would make a great stocking stuffer. As well, the chocolatiers have created full size champagne bottles made from hollow chocolate, wrapped in foil and packaged in an attractive birch case.
Anytime of the year is a cause to eat chocolate, however the holiday season seems to absolutely cry out for a visit to Sinfully the Best where you will find tempting gifts for every chocolate lover on your list.
Sinfully The Best
13-3993 Chatham Street
Richmond BC V7E 2Z6