Day in the Life: Krystal Craig of Crave Chocolate
You’ll probably recognize the handiwork of Krystal Craig, the 29-year-old owner of Crave Artisan Chocolate, from places like Jeffrey’s, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and the Four Seasons. Craig is dedicated to high-quality, all-natural couverture dark chocolates as well as creating beautiful edible prints on said chocolate. She has quite the credentials, too, including co-founding her first company, Arte y Chocolate, which she worked at for seven years; developing and producing sipping chocolate for her company Sip; and consulting for the (now closed) store Viva Chocolato in the Domain. But at the end of the day, what matters is the product, and this chocolate speaks for itself. Of course, it takes quite a bit of work to end up so delicious. Here’s how Craig gets the chocolate from its raw form to your mouth.
8:30-9 AM The alarm goes off, and even though he’s snuggly and soft, I move my neurotic, spotted cat Etch off my head. I hit snooze twice and dream a little more.
9-9:15 AM The dogs and cats get corralled outside, then I sit quietly on the couch and check initial morning emails and my daily planner. It’s starting to get into chocolate season, which is good, but it means every minute of the day counts to continuously get everything done for the approaching holidays. I start production for December in September, which always feels weird since it’s so hot outside then, but it’s worth it.
9:15-9:45 AM I get my husband, Ian, up (he’s a chef at Jeffrey’s and has to be up for a long day, too). We take the dogs on a walk.
9:45-10 AM Off to work! I grab a breakfast taco from Tacodeli on the way. I’m addicted to them, and that’s what I count as my morning coffee since I don’t actually drink that.
10-11 AM At the commercial kitchen, I start tempering a large amount of chocolate (usually 30 to 50 pounds), since that takes the longest time. Then I start prepping the sheet pans, chocolate molds and ingredients.
11-11:30 AM One of my helpers comes in and finishes prep while I continue to set up the chocolate. I let her choose the Pandora station to play while working, and she picks Lana Del Rey. When I’m working solo I usually pick something like Handsome Boy Modeling School or Gorillaz.
11:30 AM-3:30 PM Start main production. Today we need to make chocolate for the Four Seasons, a bark with their tree print. We also need to start making a large inventory of holiday-edition peppermint chocolate bars for the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf stores. We knock out the last two flavors of the order for the Four Seasons (I already made the other two requested flavors the day before) and then prep the chocolate with peppermint to start the bars. We are only going to get through about 200 bars on this round. I love peppermint so I nibble on scrap pieces of chocolate, but that’s OK, because chocolate is good for you, right? I continue with lots of chocolate pouring, spreading and scraping and running back and forth to the walk-in fridge, then cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!
3:30-4:45 PM Wrap up and head back to the house. Call my mom in the car to say hi. Once back at the house I check on the pets, make a salad for lunch and work on some invoices and emails and return a couple phone calls. My dad calls to say he got us tickets to go to a haunted house, which has been our yearly tradition together since I was a kid. I also chat with my graphic designer, Justin Beal, about new label proofs he just sent over. We make a few changes together and they look awesome.
4:45-6 PM Run over to JoyMoves and take my co-worker’s Pilates class to maintain stress levels, clear my mind and of course work off the chocolate I’ve been eating all day. I teach Pilates a few days a week as well and make sure to keep my own practice up. It feels good to move and stretch.
6-6:30 PM Run back over to the house to quickly walk and feed the cats and dogs. Grab a juice.
6:30-10:30 PM Back to the kitchen for work. It’s packaging night. My brother works with me for this part of the job. He plays podcasts of Doug Loves Movies and some other comedians while we work - laughter is good! Gift bags and boxes, ribbons, cutting, labeling, organizing.
10:30-11:45 PM Head back to the house and shower immediately. It definitely feels late at this point. Make some dinner and pour a glass of wine (chicken with veggies again; busy season sadly makes it hard to think too much about variety in dinner). Emails, and I catch up with some friends via Facebook and texts messages. Nightly ritual of cleaning up the house.
11:45 PM-12:15 AM Ian gets home. We go on our usual night walk with the dogs to catch up with each other, and our fluffy black cat Coupo, who thinks he’s a dog, joins us.
12:15-1:30 AM Another wine for me and a couple beers for Ian. We pick a show on Hulu to watch and relax. I double-check my planner for tomorrow: teaching in the morning and then holiday chocolate production all afternoon and night coming up.
1:30 AM Sleepy time. Ian and I say some sweet words to each other and then it’s off into dreamland.