Southern Belle brings passion for chocolate to the Natural State

THV11's Raven Richard talks to the owner of Cocoa Belle Chocolates in Bryant about being classically trained in chocolate. And her pride of being an Arkansan.

BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) - There's a one-of-a-kind chocolate company here in Arkansas that is spreading all across the globe.

And mastermind chocolatier, Carmen Portillo, is behind it.

The 33-year-old is a chocolatier. A chocolatier is someone classically trained and certified in chocolate. Portillo was born and raised in Little Rock but when she turned 19 she moved to Europe.

“I lived in England for a while and that's kind of where I had my first real chocolate truffle,” said Portillo. “While you're there you'd go to the shops and see the chocolatiers making everything and it kind of became an obsession.”

She worked for an accounting firm, but she couldn't shake her sweet tooth. She started in 2008 in the River Market. A few years later, she stopped there and started selling online and at events. In January of 2017, Portillo opened Cocoa Belle Chocolates in Bryant. 

But let’s get to more about the chocolate.

“I have my pecan pie bark, chocolate bark, Mississippi mud bark, and ambrosia,” said Portillo.

She’s keeping the southern roots. She’s selling not only in Arkansas but across the country and world. Portillo has even been featured in Vogue magazine. There's an assortment of chocolates from raspberry to German chocolate cake and even some that are a little spicy. Along with that, Portillo makes chocolate butter and sauces and has five lines of hot cocoa mixes. So, what's keeping this southern belle right here at home?

“I feel like there is something special in the ecosystem here in Arkansas,” she said. “I really want to put us on the map. We're known more than just cotton and rice. We have some amazing people here in the state of Arkansas.”

This is why it’s not just chocolate that makes them stand out.

“I'm proud to be an Arkansan and that my products are made right here in Arkansas,” said Portillo.

Social media is a big reason why Cocoa Belle Chocolates continues to reach so many people. The business even caters to events and can have chocolate delivered right to your doorstep. 

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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