Sweeter Than Honey – Chocolatier Jen Turner takes her sweet stuff to Fort Point

Career, Features, Food, Uncategorized

By Matt Robinson

As the birthplace of the Toll House cookie and Baker’s Brand, and as a center of the health care industry, Massachusetts knows its way around a sweet and healthy food like chocolate. That is why people who make their own here have a high chocolate bar to clear when they present their product.

For the last few years, chocolatier Jen Turner has been making her way in the world with a popular store named for the world. Blue Tierra was a sweet staple of Southie’s Broadway for a number of years. However, as the neighborhood continues to grow and change, Turner has decided to do the same. That is why she recently became a partner (along with Jason Owens of American Provisions) in the forthcoming Fort Point foodery that is Bee’s Knees Supply Co. (www.beeskneessupply.com). So while her “Olde Southie” fans (and those who came from miles away to taste her sweet wares) may miss her, all they need do is walk a few blocks to “New South Boston” to enjoy her latest creations (and MORE!)

With its curated CSA collection of fresh-baked breads, choice cheeses, locally-farmed produce, craft beers and wines, Bee’s Knees is sure to make its mark on Farnsworth Street and will surely become one of the places to shop and be seen in the ever-more trendy neighborhood. Despite its many temptations, however, many people are also sure to come just for Turner’s treats (but that’s fine with her!).

Turner recalls dropping out of college to pursue her sweet dream of “figuring out what it was I actually wanted to do.” As she was living near the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts at the time, she decided to enroll. “It seemed they were having fun while in school,” she explains.

While at CSCA, Turner turned to a favorite pastime- reading cooking magazines, especially those that had to do with her favorite course (of course!) – dessert. She also found a great deal of inspiration in her creative colleagues and classmates. “Artists of any medium inspire me,” Turner explains. “They don’t have to be pastry chefs or chocolatiers.”

However, she explains, she always had a special place in her heart (and her recipe box) for chocolate.

“I was so intrigued by the chocolates I had seen made in France,” she says. “That [is what] made me want to get into the business.”
As French confections are, as Turner puts it, “not only delicious and complex, but…visually stunning,” the Easton, MA native took it upon herself to bring this European art form back home.

“I wanted to do that, with chocolate,” she says. “I didn’t see anything like it in Boston, so I thought I could be the first! “

Basing her earliest recipes on simple, specific ingredients (and occasionally on favorite cocktails or even other, traditionally non-chocolate desserts), Turner built up her repertoire. “It can be anything really,” she says when asked what gives her ideas for her new creations.

No matter what she decides to put in her chocolates, however, Turner pledges that all her ingredients are all natural and, whenever possible, locally-sourced. “It’s the ingredients that make the chocolates,” she suggests, “so they have to be the best.”
She also notes that, unlike many other chocolates, hers are made in small batches and given expiration dates so customers can be sure that each one will test fresh and flavorful, as a good chocolate should.

“They are special because we care about what we do,” she says, “and enjoy what we do.”

As her Southie store was just over the hill from Owen’s original gourmet food shoppe, Turner was aware of and, in fact, a fan of Owens. So when she was approached with the idea of going in with him on Bee’s Knees, she jumped at the chance. “I really liked his vision,” Turner says. “I felt my chocolates would be a perfect complement to the other products that will be available.”
When asked to describe her new venture in one word, Turner chooses “exciting,” mentioning the interactive elements that will surely set Bee’s Knees apart. “I think people are really going to love it,” she says, adding, “I am so happy to be a part of it! “

Though she admits to liking eating her chocolates as much as she does making them, and though her many fans are finding her in Fort Point, Turner is always careful (and happy) to make plenty so that everyone can enjoy.

“The possibilities are endless,” she says, suggesting the possibility of returning to South Boston and perhaps even making further expansion plans. “That’s what makes this so fun!”




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