On the way to the iconic Pictou County beach, named "Melmerby Beach", you might see a sign for Chapel Cove Chocolate on the side of the road. That’s where Allan Keefe has his chocolate factory. The “factory” is a commercial kitchen he installed in their new house after he and his wife, Jan, Nova Scotian ex-patriots at the time, decided to move back to the property where Jan grew up, in Little Harbour.
Allan and his wife had a chocolate shop in British Columbia and, with the cost of living sky-rocketing, they decided to simplify life. So they sold their shop, loaded up their truck (with their two horses in tow), and moved to picturesque "Chapel Cove" on the Northumberland Shore. Allan kept a chocolate machine thinking that chocolate-making would be a nice hobby. He placed some Easter Bunnies at the local store, and when the local celiac community found out that the chocolate was gluten free, they sold out!
He then approached the New Glasgow Farmers’ Market Cooperative to get a table and things started to heat up! Allan started making chocolate bars like ones from his youth, but with a grown-up take on them.
As of this year, our chocolate has been certified FairTrade. This means that we pay a premium of an extra $300 a tonne for cacao from small farms and co-operatives. This gives them a higher income and helps with education and training to create a sustainable future for the growers.
Allan wants you to know that real chocolate made with real cocoa butter is good for you. However this isn’t just his belief: it’s backed up in scientific research. At his shop, quality chocolate, made in the European style, is made into chocolate bars, boxes, and bags of treats. And his products have certainly found a receptive audience.
Allan likes to stay true to his roots, so he makes some interesting chocolates with a maritime theme. He started with a Nova Scotia flag, which is created by printing a flag image made of cocoa butter right on the chocolate. His next creation was a chocolate lobster. Add some chocolate seashells in a gift box, and you’ve got a good memory of beachcombing in Nova Scotia. These boxes were gifts from the Town of Pictou to the captains of the Tall Ships who visited Pictou Harbour a few summers ago.
Quality and inclusiveness are important to Allan. He believes that it is important to make products that can satisfy different dietary restrictions so that everyone can enjoy an indulgence. To that end Allan searched out gluten free rice crisps so that there is as little a chance of cross contamination as there can be. His chocolate is Kosher, and Halal, (which also means he uses pure vanilla, not vanilla extract). He has sugar free chocolate for diabetics, and Keto Dieters. Our chocolate is soy free, although some of our products have inclusions which use soy. Those are identified on the labels.
Now Allan is getting more experimental with flavour pairings, that grown-up thing kicking in. Salted caramel is a big hit. Dark chocolate is his favourite, especially when paired with Himalayan salt and toasted almonds. Ginger and orange were a new pairing, and hot chili was developed using the Farmers Market customers as willing product testers. Then, “Belgian Mocha” was a success and this year’s development project is products for Keto and Paleo dieters with near zero carbs. .