We are a family-run and -operated small business in the Vancouver's Kerrisdale neighbourhood, opening our chocolate boutique in December 2011. Glenn Knowles, Founder & Chocolatier, experienced a career renaissance in 2009. Previously he was director of back-office operations at the stock exchange before launching a retail chocolate business. Entering his first chocolate competition in 2011, Glenn's chocolates received nine medals awards in the first competition he entered: The International Chocolate Salon held in Chicago, and he has won many more since then. Awards and recognition reflect the passion and care put into each chocolate.
The Gem brand hails from the initials for Glenn and his two children, Eamon and Madeleine...hence GEM...and coincidentally in Portuguese is also stands for the owners: Glenn e Mario.
All our chocolates and confections are made at our shop where they can be purchased just steps away from where they were made. Natural flavours abound - nothing artificial, our chocolates are made by hand, preservative-free. Ingredient lists are short since we use natural flavour sources without the chemical additives and compositions used by so many others.
You can find our bright Gem blue & white shop at 2029 West 41st Avenue between Maple Street and East Boulevard. We use a variety of chocolates and ingredients, and strive to use organic and fair trade whenever feasible. Come and tantalize your tastebuds with our chocolate creations! Select from our many award-winning chocolates and new creations.
We ship worldwide - just order online and include any notes if you have special preferences or would like a note included in your order.
Our newest chocolate creations were photographed by Sabine Edrissi Photography.
Our Laura Secord connection: Glenn is related (6th generation nephew) to Canadian heroine, Laura Secord. Contrary to popular belief, Laura Secord did not make chocolates despite her name used by the Eastern Canada chocolate company of the same name.
Chocolate Facts - a sample of the questions we are most commonly asked...
Are our chocolates gluten-free?
Yes, they are except for our creations that contain natural black liquorice.
Where does our chocolate couverture come from?
Most of our chocolate couverture comes from Belgium, France and Switzerland. We primarily use organic, fair trade-certified chocolate as well as couverture made with some single country of origin cacao, such as Dominican Republic, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Tanzania.
What brands of chocolate do we use?
We use Valrhona, Belcolade, Cocoa Barry and Maranõn couvertures.
How do we get our chocolates to shine?
We are often asked how we get our chocolates to be so shiny, marble-like. There's nothing artifical (or easy) about a bit...manual labour to polish our moulds by hand combined with well-tempered chocolate make our chocolates shine naturally!
What is tempered chocolate?
Tempering is the process chocolatiers follow to melt and reshape chocolate through a three stage process to heat, cool and then heat chocolate again so cocoa butter crystalizes. Easy ways to determine if chocolate is well tempered: it will have a glossy appearance, snap when broken and will maintain its form.
What is ganache?
It is typically a blend of cream and chocolate and can also have a bit of inverted sugar and butter as well. Ganache is the smooth filling inside chocolate shells and can also be used with cakes. Ganaches can also be made using water, soy or other cream substitutes. Our ganaches are made with infusions from fruit, vanilla beans, spices, and other natural ingredients.
Does Gem Chocolates have vegan-friendly products?
Most of our products do contain some form of dairy products. However, the good news is we do offer some vegan-friendly options, too. Non-dairy options include a variety of dark chocolate bars, naturally flavoured dark chocolate truffles made with coconut oil, as well as chocolate dipped candied orange peel, ginger and licorice. We use dairy products in our ganaches and caramels, so our chocolate collection can only act an eye candy to our vegan friends.
How many cocoa beans are needed to make 1kg of chocolate?
About 270 cocoa beans.
How does Gem Chocolates enter chocolate competitions?
Unlike the drama of food network shows, we make our chocolates at the shop and mail them to the competitions we enter. There they are judged for quality and we are thrilled to have been received several accolades for our chocolates. Generally we enter three or four chocolates each in various competitions...usually selecting from those most popular with customers. So a big thank you goes to our customers for being the ultimate judges since you buy them! Like anyone, judges may have their personal bias towards flavours, likes and dislikes. They may evaluate entries on such things as appearance, technique/formation, texture, pairing (filling with the shell) and flavours.
How long does it take to make a chocolate?
There are several stages to making our chocolate. First we polish our moulds by hand, then we make the shell and allow the chocolate to crystallize (several hours). Then we make and pipe the ganache or caramel into the shell, allowing it to rest from 6 to 24+ hours so the filings properly crystallized. Then we seal the chocolate with the bottom layer of chocolate, and let the chocolate rest another 6+ hours. Once removed from their moulds, the chocolates we may had a final decoration of food lustre or other finishing. We don't rush the process, so in general a single chocolate takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours (elapsed time) to make.