Their chocolates amazed at the Oscars, the Emmy’s and the White House

-Did you grow up in the typical as we say, Greek family, with all the traditions and smells from Greek cooking?

Absolutely. Our parents have always cooked and prepared our meals fresh and from scratch using all locally sourced and natural ingredients. Both our parents are wonderful cooks and our father makes delightful meals while our mother makes spectacular and traditional sweets. In addition, we have been fortunate to have the opportunity to visit our family each year in Greece, which, of course, has exposed us to the delightful cooking of our grandmother.

-Where do your parents come from and what is your connection with your roots?

Our father is from Leonidion, in the Peloponnese & our mother is from a nearby town. Although we were raised in the USA, our parents would take us to Greece for the entire summer. We have since stayed close with our cousins and our extended family, for which we feel extremely fortunate.

-Do you have any special memories from your childhood connected to your Greek heritage?

My family is very close, to which I contribute to having not only a wonderful family, but also given our culture. Our parents have always been extremely supportive of our dreams and have never pressured us to do anything that we were not passionate about.  Furthermore, no matter how busy our schedules were our parents always made it a point to have dinner as a family. I believe that is one of the reasons why we enjoy food so much. There is an association with food, family and friends. Food has more meaning in that it is what brings people together, which is something my brothers and I have carried with us.

-“Zoe’s chocolates” is following a three-generation tradition. Could you tell us the story behind your family business?

Our great aunt and uncle came to Greece in the early 1900’s. They began a small confectionary business selling chocolate from a small pushcart in Baltimore. It wasn’t until many years later that our father came to the USA for what was to be just a visit. However, he fell in love with my mother, and, as they say, the rest is history.

-Is it true that you and your siblings didn’t plan on continuing the family tradition?

Yes, that is correct. Even though we grew up in the family business, it wasn’t something we had planned on continuing. After we finished our university studies we went on to work in our fields. After some time we realized that something was still missing, something that was once a commonplace in our lives. We missed the rush of the holidays, the smell of chocolate, and most of all making our customers happy. It was perfect timing since the company our father was working wanted to change focus and direction, and he was ready for a new challenge. He was very excited at the thought of working with his children.

-Your chocolates are being served in the Oscars, the Emmys even at the White House and the G8. What are your success secrets?

I truly believe that passion, a good product, and the drive and determination is the perfect recipe for a successful business. We absolutely love what we do & we find inspiration each and every day. We are dedicated to producing only the best products while using locally sourced ingredients and staying socially responsible. With hard work and the right product, I believe, anyone can be successful.

-You have incorporated Mediterranean flavors in your chocolates, what new flavors do you have in mind? Is Greece an inspiration?

Absolutely. When we first started our company we wanted to create a line of chocolates that were completely unique using flavors nobody else had. Instead of following trends, we wanted to create them.  To do this, we looked to our heritage for inspiration and created our Mediterranean line of chocolates, which include flavors such as Baklava, Pomegranate, Aegean Pistachio and Mavrodaphne. We also created a Greek Yogurt & Honey bonbon, which recently won a Good Food Award. Greek desserts and flavors are most definitely an inspiration to our chocolate line. These are all flavors we grew up with and flavors that we love. We feel that many people can identify with these sun-kissed flavors of the Mediterranean.

-Which chocolate is your best seller and why?

Some of our best sellers include our Baklava chocolate, Black Raspberry and our salted caramels.

-Your clientele includes Zach Galifianakis and Opra. Do they have any preferences?

For Oprah Magazine they loved our Gold Bar, which is dark chocolate with 24k gold, as well as our Heart Bar, which was dark chocolate studded with red hearts. For Zach’s wedding we created a special chocolate for him in a custom made box, which was quite lovely.

-Have you ever been in Greece? Do you have a favorite place?

Yes, we are fortunate to go to Greece every year. It’s very difficult to pick a favorite place because the entire country is so incredibly beautiful. Growing up, we would spend our summers in Leonidion with our family. So many of my childhood memories are of our home in Greece, spent with our cousins, friends and family.

-What does Greece mean for you?

Greece means so much to not only me, but to my family. As I said above, most of our memories are of Greece. We spent our entire summers there, enjoying the good food, culture, traditions, and sunshine. We feel extremely fortunate that we had such an opportunity. The warmth of the people is unparalleled. I think the Greeks know how to live, which is something we have taken with us.

Achievements

Their chocolates amazed at the Oscars, the Emmy’s and the White House

Zoe’s Chocolates is a third-generation family business with roots in Achaia, Greece and Leonidio. Their chocolates are being served from the Oscars to the Emmy Awards as well as in the White House and the G8 Convention. They have created chocolates for Oprah as well as custom made chocolates for Zach Galifianakis’ wedding.

Zoe, Pantelis and Petros Tsoukatos are the three siblings who, along with their dad, George, started Zoe’s Chocolate Company to continue the tradition.

Their great aunt and uncle came to America from Greece in the early 1900s and  sold homemade, traditional hand-rolled chocolates from a pushcart and sold homemade chocolates made from recipes they remembered from their parents. Soon after, they decided to settle in Waynesboro, where they opened a chocolate store in 1902.

Their dad worked as a master chocolatier in the family business, and the siblings grew up in an intoxicating aroma of chocolate.

“Our father is from Leonidion, in the Peloponnese & our mother is from a nearby town. Although we were raised in the USA, our parents would take us to Greece for the entire summer. We have since stayed close with our cousins and our extended family, for which we feel extremely fortunate” Zoe Tsoukatos says in her interview at ellines.com

After initially working in other fields, the three simblings longed for the tradition they loved so much and the business in which we grew up. Thus, they opened Zoe’s Chocolate Company in 2007.

Zoe’s Chocolate combines the spirit, skill, and tradition of past generations, the true artisan chocolatiers, with the modern sophistication of today’s flavors, trends and ingredients.

Inspired by their Mediterranean heritage everything is fresh and natural, made from local and sustainable products. Baklava, Aegean Pistachio and Sesame Tahini are inspired by Greece and a total success.

“Instead of following trends, we wanted to create them.  To do this, we looked to our heritage for inspiration and created our Mediterranean line of chocolates, which include flavors such as Baklava, Pomegranate, Aegean Pistachio and Mavrodaphne. We also created a Greek Yogurt & Honey bonbon, which recently won a Good Food Award. Greek desserts and flavors are most definitely an inspiration to our chocolate line. These are all flavors we grew up with and flavors that we love.” adds Zoe.

With nearly 50 different confections in their sweet repertoire, the Tsoukatos also are constantly working on new ideas to meld chocolate with other flavors to create new masterpieces

COMMENTS

  Comments: 2

  1. Peter Martin bayside NY

    My wife is the daughter of Peter Golegos, he is the son of Mary Tsoukatos. Peter left Greece and settled in New York in the early 1900’s and became very successful in the restarant business in Astoria New York. I came across Mary tsoukatos’s name today while reading my father-in laws (peter golegos) death certificate . Peter has 2 surviving daughters both living in bayside,my. I would love to exchange information for my wife AnnMarie regarding her family roots. Thank you peter martin


  2. Wow!! My last name is Tsoukatos as well. My dad came from Greece to the Americas after WWII, and his father was from Leonidion as well. Apparentally all of us Tsoukatos descend from Leonidion!! 🙂


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