Seasonal Foodie Featured Maker
Meet Socola Chocolatier Co-founder, Wendy Lieu
Socola Chocolatier is a San Francisco-based company that infuses the distinctive flavors of Vietnam in their beautifully designed truffles and confections.
You maybe asking yourself, “chocolate and wine? Really?” If you know one thing about us, it’s that we whole-heartily advocate for expanding your palate and mind around what’s possible with food and wine pairings. We recently began partnering with Socola to present a Wine & Chocolate Pairing Experience in our tasting room. Socola’s enticing and exotic truffle flavors, like lychee, passion fruit, and even pho, created an exciting new dynamic alongside our wines. Socola offers a pairing experience with tea, and there are a lot of similarities between tea and wine. For one, they both have tannins, and both can influence and be influenced by the food they’re paired with. Cool, right?
We caught up with the brain behind Socola Chocolatier, co-founder Wendy Lieu. She shared a bit about what inspired her to start her brand and what she hopes folks experience when they try her truffles and confections for the first time.
What inspired you to start your business?
My sister Susan and I started our business as teenagers. We spent our summers helping out at our parents’ nail salon in Santa
Rosa and that also meant spending a lot of time at the mall across the street, The Santa Rosa Plaza. One of the very first stores at the
entrance was See’s Candies. We ate free samples every day and from there I became instantly enamored with learning everything about chocolate, from how the shapes are created to how flavors are infused. I spent all my money at a local candy
store while I taught myself new recipes. We are creating chocolate and confections inspired by the diverse flavors of Vietnam – something that never existed before.
What do you love most about food and cooking?
I love that food is a way to connect with people and explore cultures. I enjoy the process of cooking food from sourcing the ingredients to eventually plating and eating (though sometimes I am already full from smelling as I am cooking). As for chocolate, I always seek out boutique chocolate shops wherever I travel to and find new and interesting flavors.
What is your go-to comfort food?
A bowl of piping hot Bun Rieu
Describe your dream dinner. Who’s there, what are you eating, what are you drinking?
My dream dinner would be with my mom, grandma, aunties and my sister (and the rest of my family of course). We would be enjoying Vietnamese comfort foods (Canh chua, thit kho, goi ga, chao) with karaoke blaring in the background.
What is your hope for people experiencing your product for the first time?
To really take a moment to enjoy being present while enjoying the chocolates. To share with family and friends. Close your eyes and see where the flavor takes you.
Are you a wine drinker? Any particular kind of wine you’re loving right now?
Yes, of course! I am from Sonoma County. Depends on the time of day, the weather and what we are eating. I am enjoying full bodied reds with black pepper finishes – most often Cabs.
What most excites you about this food and wine pairing?
I have paired chocolates with many different types of beverages but I have never had durian chocolates paired with a wine — It’s so interesting!