As we approach the sweet month of February, I got to know the lady behind B. toffee, Betsy Thagard. Her warm personality and quality product made me wonder why I haven't interviewed her sooner. Better late than never, I suppose.
I love the clear and simple packaging. How did you decide on that, versus something more colorful?
Consumers are visual. They want to see what they are purchasing. Creating packaging that is sleek and sophisticated draws our customer to B. toffee. The taste keeps them coming back for more! We are proud to have been awarded top GOLD honors by the Taste TV Awards from San Francisco for 'Top Toffee' and 'Best Packaging'.
What kinds of desserts do you like personally?
Anything chocolate. Milk chocolate the best!
Where was your most recent meal?
Gulfstream in Corona del Mar. I enjoy their smoked trout appetizer and grilled salmon. So delicious!
Tell me about the toffee. What's in it, and are there additional flavors?
We offer milk and dark chocolate versions of B. toffee. It is made with only the finest ingredients. Rich, savory butters, fine domestic sugars, premium Guittard and Callebaut chocolates, and topped with superior quality roasted pecan nuts. Everyone raves about the consistency of our toffee. It doesn't stick to your teeth, or feel like it might pull out a filling. It is the only toffee my dentist approves of!
Most undervalued ingredient:
How did B. toffee begin? What prompted you to go into business?
I love to cook and entertain for family and friends. During the holidays, I wanted to gift everyone something special. I experimented with different toffee recipes until I came up with my own. Everyone kept demanding more, while expressing I should sell it to the public. I introduced it to a local specialty store in Newport Beach who still carries it to this day. It has continued to grow a core audience, strong following and ever-growing customer base.
Are there stereotypes that people have about pastry chefs, and are they true?
That the pastry chef world is more of a woman's domain. Maybe long ago, but I feel men and women can do whatever they aspire to explore in the kitchen.
Your best recent food find:
Poke Dot! It is right by the OC airport and my commercial kitchen. It's sushi in a bowl. Always so fresh and delicious.
How is the transition to the new space?
Fabulous! It's so wonderful to have more room to expand our operation. We've still got a lot of work to do to organize the space to function our production the most efficiently.
Where did you grow up?
I traveled often as a child before moving to Orange County. My Dad's medical practice brought us here. I've lived in Newport Beach with my husband and children for over half my life.
What's your favorite childhood memory?
Living in Germany with my family of four sisters. I loved traveling to all the different countries in Europe and visiting many of the most amazing castles.
Your earliest food memory:
As a kid on our birthdays, my Mom would let us choose our favorite meal. I always chose lobster.
Favorite places to eat.
One of my favorite restaurants is Press in the Napa Valley. I've always got to make a stop at Dean & Deluca, too, whether in Napa, New York or DC.
You're making breakfast; what are you having?
I'm actually not a huge breakfast person, but if I'm out for breakfast I'll likely choose lox and a bagel with cream cheese, onions and capers.
Hardest lesson you've learned:
I'm unable to do it all. Handing off tasks and delegating more to others is a must. Trusting they have the company's best interest at heart. I'm so proud to have the best group of people a part of the B. toffee team!
Do you have any pets?
Yes, the best dog in the world, Bella. She is a mutt with the sweetest temperament ever.
Tell me something most people don't know about you.
I am an Army brat. My late father was a doctor and served overseas. Our family traveled and lived in many different places.
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Do you have any skills that have nothing to do with food?
I've been told I'm creative and have a talent for design.
What would you like to be doing if you weren't in the industry?
Flipping houses. I love the design and building process.
What are your goals for B. toffee for the upcoming year?
To continue to grow the company, sharing B. toffee with more of the world! We've had the opportunity to work with some incredible companies. We'd love to expand the business further within the corporate arena.
Where can readers find your toffee?
In select Whole Foods stores in the Western Region of the US, Bristol Farms and Dean & Deluca from Napa to New York. A few of the local specialty stores in the OC include Hi-Time Wine Cellars, Rogers Gardens and A Market. For our full location list, visit our website, where you can also purchase our toffee. It is also available for local pick up by appointment. www.btoffee.com.