Oakland business sweetens up Valentine's Day

February 11, 2011 6:38:14 PM PST
Valentine's Day is Monday and it is the busiest day of the year for some specialized businesses. Florists and candy makers have their biggest day, and one chocolate maker ramps up production of his gourmet chocolates all by himself.

Michael Mischer makes artisan chocolates in his small shop on Grand Avenue in Oakland. He came to the Bay Area from Northern Germany 25 years ago where he was a pastry chef. He continued in the pastry business in Northern California until he opened his own shop in Oakland in 2004. The place looks like an art gallery than a candy store.

"It's kind of an old fashioned thing because I still enjoy my craft," he said.

His chocolates are all hand made -- so it is much more labor intensive than so-called "manufactured" chocolates. He also creates all of his own fillings. The secret to good chocolate is its freshness, so Michael ramps up his production two weeks before the big day.

"Because I do make products fresh, I really can't start up in December to stock up, So I work really long hours the last two weeks," he said.

If you can't make it to Michael's chocolaterie, the fine confections are also sold at specialty shops. Ironically, his shop is right next door to a Weight Watchers.