Venezuelan-born Aura Fajardo Quintero works with Rhode Island food and beverage producers at her Cranston boutique.
Aura Fajardo Quintero is the queen of cocoa, creating an artisan chocolate company from the beans. At first she thought she might want to be a pastry chef, but she was seduced by chocolate making during her studies. A former graphic designer, the Venezuelan earned a pastry degree from Johnson and Wales University. She gained more experience in chocolate making through an internship and various jobs and now runs her own business, Aura’s Chocolate Bar, in Cranston.
“I ended up falling in love with chocolate,” she says. “It was totally unexpected.”
She’s planning all sorts of chocolate treats for Valentine’s Day, including “Surprise” chocolate hearts that open to reveal a red molded chocolate rose inside, plus hot chocolate bombs and bars chocolate bars encrusted with edible rose petals and with unusual flavors of dragon fruit with pomegranate, matcha, chili lime and more. Its Sommelier Series works with local winemakers and spirits companies, including Anchor and Hope for pink raspberry and Sons of Liberty for Battle Cry Whiskey-infused cocoa nib chocolate bars. Fajardo Quintero also sources local companies such as Newport Sea Salt, Leafy Green Tea, Ocean State Pepper Company, Borealis Coffee and many more for its flavor combinations.
Fajardo Quintero recently won Rhode Island’s inaugural Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream pitch contest at Hope and Main in Warren and won $8,000 to purchase new equipment to grow his business. But she will never forget her humble beginnings.
“Coming to cooking school was completely out of my comfort zone. I remember my first lab in French pastry, where I said to myself: “What did I get myself into? I didn’t even know how to use a scale,” she says. “That’s how far I was from that industry.”
But she took baking and chocolate-making classes and mastered those skills. She interned at Hebert Candies in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, then got a job at a wholesale bakery in Massachusetts. “I knew I wanted to have my own business. But I also knew that I had to work in the industry for a while,” says Fajardo Quintero. “I have made thousands of chocolates. I messed up a lot. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to spoil and learn.
After gaining experience, she started her own artisan chocolate business through Hope and Main in Warren in 2017. “I applied to work at other chocolate businesses, but never
received no response,” she said. “I said that if I couldn’t find a workplace, I would create it. That’s what happened. I have created a perfect environment where my skills are used.
Fajardo Quintero says Hope and Main gave her the guidance she needed for her startup, and she met other like-minded small business owners who supported her throughout the evolution of hers. “You meet so many people doing the same things you do. You cry with other entrepreneurs. You complain about the supply chain. You talk about where to get the packaging. They help you through everything,” she says. “Hope and Main was a great first step.”
And it’s also allowed it to combine forces with other food and beverage producers like Leafy Green Tea for matcha flavor and Town Farm Tonics, which makes elderberry syrup. “Let’s mix it up! ” she says. “And it’s beautiful. With high quality chocolate it is very hard to go wrong. It just takes a bit of trial and error. This is what keeps me going. » 250 East St., Cranston, 312-3381, auraschocolatebar.com