Wendy and Brandon Buckner started The Hot Chocolatier in 2008. As a locally-owned Chattanooga, TN based company, the couple wanted to bring their experiences – from the various cities in which they had lived – back to the their native hometown. The concept of The Hot Chocolatier became a reality when Wendy and Brandon began introducing artisan chocolates, confections, one-of-a-kind sculptures, showpieces, customized favors, and corporate/wedding gifts to the public upon opening the doors of their first location within the Business Development Center along the North Shore area of downtown Chattanooga.
August, 2011 brought about a remarkable and much needed change for The Hot Chocolatier as the business moved to Chattanooga’s Southside. The location at the corner of 201 West Main Street and Williams Street became the first retail shop/working kitchen for The Hot Chocolatier. With the move came some great changes; like a split kitchen to allow hot and cold items to be made at the same time. Whereas the business had previously focused solely on chocolate items, the menu expanded to in-house gourmet pastries and desserts. Visitors would arrive to find that they could watch the pastry chefs and chocolatiers working to fill the cases of the retail shop. This open floor plan became a big factor in relocating the business. The chocolate kitchen featured a wall of windows through which guests were able to watch as freshly prepared chocolate items moved through various states of production. (This would continue on to the next location as well… keep on reading.)
After visiting a number of shops & production facilities in Paris, France and Belgium as part of a travel study through a MakeWork grant, Wendy and Brandon felt that Chattanooga needed something of an artisan chocolate/gourmet dessert boutique-style shop to call their own. These kinds of shops exist in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta; so why not in Chattanooga too?
In Spring of 2014, the shop re-located to 1437 Market Street, directly across from the historic Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel. The new location offers more retail space and seating for customers, as well as a more efficient streamlined transition between cold and hot kitchens. Similar to the Main Street location, guests to the shop are still able to view the inner workings of the chocolate kitchen through windows along its outer wall while smelling freshly baked pastries and chocolate/coffee drinks as they’re being prepared.
By working in small-batches with the freshest ingredients – purchased locally when possible, The Hot Chocolatier promises only the highest quality of products – developed through interchanges of both exotic and comforting flavor combinations – to its customers.
The Hot Chocolatier would like to thank BrightBridge, CreateHere/Springboard/MakeWork, The Chattanooga Market, Chattz Coffee, Thomas Johnson, hard-working employees, friends & family (who continue to freely volunteer their time when needed), and our local patrons who continue to spread the good news about good chocolate!
Wendy Buckner: owner & head chocolatier, received her training at The French Pastry School in Chicago, IL. Wendy has worked in several prominent patisseries and chocolate kitchens before developing The Hot Chocolatier. She also brings her training as a visual artist to her culinary experience.
Brandon Buckner: co-owner & assistant chocolatier, received a MFA in Painting from The University of Iowa, Iowa City. His training in design and studio art makes him an asset in custom chocolate creations. Brandon also designed the logo, packaging, and various promotional pieces.