LAUrA TAxEL IS A CLEvELAND-BASED JOUrNALIS T AND AUTHOr WHO WrITES ABOUT FOOD, CHEFS AND THE rES TAUrAN T BUSINESS
FOr CONSUMEr AND TrADE PUBLICATIONS. SHE IS THE AUTHOr OF CLEvELAND’S WES T SIDE MArkE T: 100 yEArS & S TILL COOkING
(UNIvErSITy OF AkrON PrESS, 2012).
water-resistant whole-flower version that actually floats. “Talk
about the wow factor,” says Diane Svehlak, president. “The visual
impact and value added are huge. These products provide a unique
and memorable customer experience.”
John Clemons is Sweetfields’ founder/CEO. It took him more
than nine years to, as he says, “go from reading about how to
candy flowers to having a product that’s aesthetically astounding
and can be produced on a large scale.” Even if fresh flowers
are delivered one day after harvesting, Clemons explains, their
structural integrity will be compromised. Some won’t survive and
others will arrive with buds closed. “The flowers we crystallize are
picked when they’re firm, between 6 and 8 a.m., before the sun has
really touched them, and candied immediately. With our system,
four people can do 1,200 blossoms an hour, capturing each one
at the moment of perfection.” He also produces a variation with a
luster finish that features a dramatic dusting of gold or silver.
Beauty, adds Clemons, is obviously the main attraction, but
candied flowers also have a textural allure. “They’re crunchy. It’s
like eating a sweet potato chip.”
Clemons’ newest venture is Coco Savvy, a line of dark and
white single-origin chocolates topped with crystallized flowers
and herbs. A request from one of his restaurant clients, Randy
Smerik, owner of Solare in San Diego, inspired the project. “He
Bacher has four key bits of advice for DIYers.
1. Make sure the flowers are completely dry.
2. Handle them carefully so the blossoms don’t bruise.
3. Use a fine paintbrush to apply the coating.
4. Egg whites must be really well broken up but not overly coagulated.
Beat just to the point where the mixture starts to foam.
San Marcos, Calif.
Crystallized Flower Company
Dress The Drink
Top: The Flowerfetti cake from Cooking
with Flowers. left: Chocolate plate with
asked me to come up with something special for a Valentine’s dinner. I created chocolate bars with
crumbled rose petals and candied violas. Then he challenged me to make chocolates for pairing
with port, and I used opal and lemon basil, spearmint leaves, sea salt and toasted zest from Valencia
oranges we grow.” The confections are now available online.
“Solare is a green farm-to-table Italian restaurant,” says Smerik. “John’s products are a good fit.
We use his fresh edible flowers on salads and pasta, but because they wilt easily, we order sparingly,
and only on an as-needed basis. The crystallized ones, which make things like panna cotta and
gelato extra special, give us more flexibility because they last almost forever, so we keep them on
hand.” Coco Savvy chocolates are served as a dessert plate or purchased in packages of four pieces
to take home.
“People are just blown away by these striking presentations,” notes Smerik. “It set us apart from
the competition, and that’s a big win for my business.”