As many of you know, I love wellness superstars near and far and I really love meeting people who share my passion for health, wellness, great food and just living a purpose filled life!!! Colleen Heidecker is definitely one of those people 🙂
I will save you from my long story of our somewhat random meeting but what I will tell you is that a week after meeting Colleen, I asked her to join my food shoot which was scheduled months prior, as I loved her work and wanted to use my blog platform to share her gift with my audience.
In my opinion, Colleen is the real deal and her passion for life is infectious! Want to know more about her? Of course you do! During one of our many conversations, she gave me the low down on who she is and her plenteous offering. After you get to know a little more about Colleen, get ready to feast your eyes on some images of her handcrafted chocolate creations – I guarantee your mouth with water 😉
Who are you I and what do you do?
I am Colleen Heidecker and I am a lot of things! I grew up in Alberta but as soon as I could move I headed out to far flung places. I did my Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Animal Behaviour at the University of Alberta and I was fortunate enough to spend 18 years working in my field – animal training. I lived and worked in 4 different countries and had so many incredible experiences working with some of the most amazing animals in the world. I was primarily a dolphin trainer but I worked with dozens of different species.
After I finished working as a trainer, honestly I was a bit lost. Every day for 18 years I had goals – daily, weekly, monthly goals. The animals needed that and I thrived on it. When I was done, I didn’t know what to do. I started working with a partner and we had a racing company where we put on Adventure Races and Trail Runs. I taught people to trail run, I scoped out new race courses as my “job” and I started making food for the athletes. I needed to take what I knew from animals and help athletes – animals cannot speak but you have to learn and anticipate what they need. I was suddenly working with athletes that were pushing themselves to their limits where they also couldn’t communicate about what they needed and I had to be able to understand and help them. I was making Energy Bars for them at the events and I just kept on learning more about food and endurance athletes. As someone who had spent a lot of time as a competitive athlete as well, it was great to feel a bit like I was in my element.
Fast forward a few years later and I was making food for friends, having them be my taste testers and developing my own recipes. My business has grown and changed a lot over the years. I just recently did a brand change from Cloud 9 to Colleen Heidecker Pure Culinary. One of the reason was that I do a lot of different things and I was always explaining what I was doing and who I was and what the heck did Cloud 9 mean! Pure Culinary is just that – everything to do with culinary and on a different level – I’m always looking for the best ingredients to use and the highest quality I can find. What do I do now? I consult, make chocolate, teach, promote products, develop products, collaborate on events, create solutions for businesses (like costing sheets), and eat a lot of amazing food!
Chocolate for me isn’t just that sweet piece of sugar laden crap you find when you are checking out at a grocery store. Chocolate is the most complex food in the world. I mean think about it, what other food do you know that can do as many things as chocolate can? It can have wildly different flavour notes, it can be made into an incredible amount of products, you can have it in different percentages from white chocolate that has no cocoa solids all the way up to 100% chocolate that is bitter but can very quickly be turned into a perfect bite sized bonbon. The chemical composition of cacao (where all chocolate comes from) is the most complex of any food out there containing the highest amounts of many components like amino acids, antioxidants, phenols, minerals, and more. It grows in incredible places and is a funky looking fruit, yes it’s a fruit! It comes in different colours, all of them beautiful. There are species that were lost that are now being found again and they have some crazy flavours to them. There are groups of people working to protect heirloom species of chocolate and I find it so inspiring. It has a lot going on and it is fussy.
You need to actually get to know chocolate – if you are in a hurry or not present, it just messes with you – it won’t temper properly, it won’t set properly, it will streak and bloom on you. Chocolate needs your undivided attention and it needs to be your passion. Not everyone is cut out to work with chocolate, that’s probably why there are certain people that enjoy chocolate work more than others. But, once you get inside and you start taking the time to learn everything you can, the rewards are sweet and awesome!
When I started working with chocolate I started with the base components, cacao butter, cacao powder, sugar, vanilla, and sea salt. I spent time learning how they worked together and now I am spending time learning about chocolate from different terroirs, different percentages, and different chocolate makers – all these things impact how chocolate tastes so much. I just recently had a chocolate that tasted like chocolate! No word of a lie, the chocolate maker wanted only the chocolate flavour notes present and so they carefully selected beans that only had a chocolate taste, no fruity or coffee notes, just chocolate. It was surreal to close my eyes and just taste chocolate 😉
What do I love most about the chocolate scene in YEG?
Great question! For a small city we actually have a lot going on. I love the diversity of what is happening in Edmonton – we have a mix of chocolatiers doing great work and we have some incredible places to buy chocolate. My favourites though is an incredible chocolatier named Brett Roy. He is the owner of Sweet Lollapalooza and his chocolates are some of the best I have ever eaten. When you go into his shop you know you are in for something very special.
For buying fine flavour chocolate there is no better place than Duchess Provisions. Their selection is hands down the best in the city. They carry some of my favourite chocolate including a Canadian chocolate maker called Soma Chocolate out of Toronto. I feel pretty spoiled between those 2 places and being able to get my bases covered on a daily basis!
What other things do you dabble in?
I kind of have a very tiny competitive side LOL! I love the fitness and wellness scene here in Edmonton. We have the most incredible community of people that I am so happy to be a part of. I love going to Orange Theory Fitness, I’ve made so many friends and for me it is such a great match – the more I workout, the more I can eat! But, seriously, between the food scene and the fitness industry here, I have a lot of great things to keep me busy. I also love teaching! I have had great opportunities to teach at different places and every time I have a chance to get in front of a group of people and teach, its pretty much the best day ever.
Do I have any hidden talents?
I’m an Excel nerd, does that count? I love creating spreadsheets for myself and for businesses. There’s something beautiful about a well organized spreadsheet! I am also very creative and love when I have time to play in the kitchen. I can look at a list of ingredients and come up with recipes and have no waste; that’s a pretty good talent! I know what it will taste like and how I need to make the recipe just by looking at the ingredients. Sometimes I play a fun game with friends where they give me something to eat and I tell them the ingredients…well, we think it’s fun! Oh, and I’m really good on TV! Years of working with animals has made doing live TV easy for me and I love when I get to be on camera and sharing something epic about food!
Any other fun facts we should know?
I have a great opportunity to potentially work with some cacao farmers in Costa Rica. I’m partnering up with a family that lives here and if we can, we want to help the farmers to build resources so they can sell their cacao for fair prices. I have some cacao beans straight from a farm that I am currently working with to see what the flavour profile is like. My goal in working with chocolate has always been to get to the point where I can directly impact the farmers and support them to make farming cacao a good life. It’s hard work but the reward is incredible!
Time to get social, how do readers get in touch with you?
Absolutely – get in touch with me!
Twitter @colleenheidecke no “r” on the end, my name was too long!
Pinterest – pureculinary