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INTERVIEW: BETA5 Chocolates

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At first glance, you would never peg Industrial Avenue for a foodie destination. The landscape of this part of Vancouver is almost exclusively concrete – low, boxed-shaped warehouses and large parking lots stretch towards the skyline of the North Shore. But, hidden within one of these nondescript buildings is Beta 5 – one of North’s America’s Top Ten Chocolatiers! They specialize in gourmet chocolates, one-of-a-kind cream puffs, and some of the best ice cream sandwiches you’ll ever have.

It was Beta 5 that first inspired our “Stops Along The Seawall” blog series last summer, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with Jessica, co-owner and founder of the legendary chocolate shop! While the team of chocolatiers and pastry chefs bustled around the warehouse, Jessica and I sat down in the loft and talked television, travel, flopped flavours, and more!

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So…How many cream puffs can you eat in one sitting?
Well, I have a sweet tooth, so product testing is always fun. I would say that three cream puffs is probably my upper limit! With chocolate, it’s a different story.

Where is the furthest place you’ve ever sent your chocolates?
Pretty far points in Canada – the Northwest Territories and to Dieppe, New Brunswick.

What is your favourite TV show?
Probably House of Cards. And one of my guilty pleasures is The Bachelorette.

Why do you love Industrial Avenue?
When Adam and I first opened Beta 5, we lived on Main and 6th. We’ve always been drawn to industrial areas and it was such a plus to be able to walk to work. In this area, it’s a bit tucked away, but there is a juxtaposition between nature (the mountains) and industry, which is inspiring to our work.

Is there a place you’d like to travel?
Japan – it’s such a mecca for food, especially for chocolates and pastry!

Would you say you try chocolate in every city that you visit?
Absolutely! Some of favourite cities are New York and Paris for that very reason.

Who is your favourite cartoon character?
Lilo & Stitch!

Have there been any flopped flavours along the way?
Hmmm…great question! There was one flavour we did – I remember it was a Bonito Flakes Chocolate in a fish-shaped mould that we had a few “constructive” comments on…

Where is your favourite patio in Vancouver?
Oh, lots of patios…we spend a lot of time at The Whip up the street!

Do you have any advice for at-home cream puff makers or aspiring chocolatiers?
Yes! Be precise in your work – don’t wing it! When in comes to following the steps, measuring and mixing, it’s important to keep things tight. At the point of baking, this is where there is more leeway. Every oven is different so there’s a bit of flexibility there.

What is the best time to visit Beta 5?
We get quite busy, especially on weekends and special occasions. The best time to come is in the morning – 10:30am-12:30pm on weekdays or between 10am and noon on weekends.

What is this awesome cardboard wall you’re standing in front of?
It’s a magnetic, all-paper wall from a local Vancouver company called Molo! They are the best. Because the edges are magnetic, you can customize the shape/length of the wall. We love them because they’re great for dividing open spaces like this one. 

When can a foodie catch one of BETA 5’s Ice Cream Socials?
Every Friday night and Saturday afternoon this summer.

What is something unexpected that came from opening BETA 5?
Well, neither Adam or I had business backgrounds…I was an academic in Politcal Theory. We’ve had a lot of learning along the way, but specifically with managing cash flow and staffing. This was a completely open space when we arrived! 

Are there any upcoming flavour combinations we can look forward to?
Absolutely! The new menu launched July 1 and we’re focusing on seasonal flavours like cherries, peaches and other berries. We will also be doing some specials for pollinators – honeybees & others that pollinate crops!

To read more about the gourmet eats at Beta 5 (hint: ice cream sandwiches), click here!

Joyce Chua

About Joyce Chua

I’m fascinated by food and its impact on culture, especially in an increasingly globalized world. I love how Vancouver’s multicultural food scene opens doors to history, culture, and understanding. Here’s to a life of eating and learning!

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