3040 Dundas Street West
I shed a little tear the day in 2003 when Citron closed down. The Queen Street restaurant was one of my favourites and I think of it fondly still. A couple of years later, a friend who happened to also be good friends with the folks who had owned the place showed up at my house for dinner bearing a box of chocolates. The gorgeous treats were the work of none other than former Citron pastry chef and co-owner Jennifer Rashleigh. She had created a business called Delight and was making beautiful chocolates and selling them wholesale.
She explained that by 2003, Citron had run its course and everyone involved was ready to move on and start new projects. Rashleigh herself was pregnant with her second child and wanted the time off to spend with her kids. You can’t keep a chef out of kitchen, though, and by 2004 she had started developing recipes for truffles and chocolates and was working out of her home to fill wholesale orders.
Earlier this year, she began looking for a retail space and found the perfect spot on Dundas West in the Junction. Attracted by the reasonable rent and the light airy space with high ceilings and a south-facing window, Rashleigh was happy to make Delight’s home in this up and coming neighbourhood full of historical architecture and a small-town feel. The prolonged prohibition in the area (the ward was dry from the first world war until about only a decade ago) has often made the Junction feel like the place that time forgot, but it’s recently become one of the hottest neighbourhoods in terms of real estate, and many new shops and restaurants have opened up in the past few years.
As such, residents welcome new businesses to the area with open arms. After a soft opening in mid-September to coincide with the Junction Arts Festival, Rashleigh says that the neighbourhood has embraced the tiny shop, very much wanting it to succeed. She, in turn, is happy to be there, opening at 8am on weekdays to offer coffee and a decadent brownie or cookie as the locals head off to work.
When asked about how she got into chocolate-making, Rashleigh admits that she had always preferred pastry until she took a chocolate course in Montreal. The finicky detail-oriented work of chocolate-making really attracted her, and shops featuring handmade chocolates are still a rarity in Toronto, so it seemed like a great business idea.
One of the unique qualities of the chocolates at Delight is that all are made from organic, fair-trade ingredients. This came about when Rashleigh took an order for the wedding of an environmental lawyer. The bride wanted everything served to be organic and fair-trade and Rashleigh did the legwork to accommodate, hooking up with La Siembra Cooperative who supply her with ethical chocolate from the Dominican Republic.
“That was the direction things were going to anyway,” she says of the decision to stick with the organic, fair-trade products. “It was the best decision we ever made. We came into it at the right time and it was actually pretty easy to get supplies.” Rashleigh goes on to explain that all of the ingredients in her chocolates are organic, including the rosewater, lemon grass and vanilla. She expresses regret at not being able to offer an orange-based version because liqueurs such as Grand Marnier do not meet the ethical policy Delight applies to their ingredients. She is testing a wine-based truffle made with organic wine from Frog’s Pond Winery, and is working on sourcing an organic whisky for a future flavour.
The chocolates themselves are arranged prettily in a small display case. While all are shaped the same, Rashleigh decorates each flavour with various chocolate swirls and flowers to differentiate them. There’s nothing too obscure on offer the day I visit; Rashleigh sticks to classics such as ginger, caramel, vanilla bean, cardamom rosewater and pumpkin. There’s also lime, lemon and cashew in the varieties offered on the website. I bring home a box to share with my husband and we can’t pick a favourite, they’re all too good. The ginger is bright and strong; the caramel slightly salty – just enough to really make it work; and the vanilla bean melts into a little pool of heaven.
When I remark on how serene the shop is, Rashleigh admits that she is currently doing all the work herself, with no employees. Her husband, also a food-service professional, helps out on evenings and weekends, but she is currently a one-woman chocolate factory, working to not only keep the store well-stocked but to fill wholesale orders as well. Despite the long hours, and the hard work, her face is bright with joy and excitement as we talk, the small smudge of chocolate on her cheek serving as a badge of honour for her hard work and dedication.
I’ll still continue to miss Citron, but knowing that Rashleigh’s amazing chocolates are just a quick TTC ride away makes the loss a little easier to bear. Delight really is a delight in every way. I hope those folks in the Junction know how lucky they are.