“I take the middle road...a little from this, a little from that,” says Erik Landegren, regarding the balance of influence he draws from both the American and European styles of chocolate making.
A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Landegren’s journey to becoming a Connecticut chocolatier has been a long one. After receiving a degree in hotel management at the University of Denver, Landegren went back to Sweden and apprenticed at the renowned Royal Palace and Opera Cellar before getting an opportunity to come to New York City and work at the premier Scandinavian restaurant, Aquavit. It was through friends in Connecticut that he began private catering work for financier Peter W. May one summer. Shortly thereafter, May bought The Village Store in Bridgewater and asked Landegren to help him come up with ideas for it. Trying to create a niche outside the traditional offerings of “coffee and newspapers,” Landegren incorporated a bakery into the store, which soon led to the idea of making chocolate.
Landegren was both impressed by and beguiled with the audacity of American-style chocolate: daring confections, peanut butter patties, scandalous mixtures of nuts and caramel. This contradicted his rigid and refined European view of chocolate making. He admits, “I think Snickers bars are a brilliant confection, you know, nougat and peanuts and caramel. I mean, how bad can it be?” However, the chocolate component of the treat left him unimpressed. “It was not anything to write home about,” he says, which led Landegren to found Bridgewater Chocolate, which employs a hybrid of both traditions: American-style confections but with an eye for high-quality chocolate, higher cocoa butter content, and precise control of process.
Seventeen years later, Bridgewater Chocolate has busy retail locations in West Hartford and Brookfield and a thriving web business. They have recently partnered with an international retail company and will be opening stores abroad in 2017, a testament to Landegren’s successful marriage of chocolate making processes.
559 Federal Rd., Brookfield