By Brian Garrido
Growing up in a family involved in the confectionery arts, Cathy Brand-Beere of DeBrand Fine Chocolates in Fort Wayne began working with chocolate at the age of 8. In elementary school, she was crafting chocolate candies and selling them to her classmates, and during high school, the teen pastry chef had a summer job designing wedding cakes. In October 1987, she started DeBrand Fine Chocolates.
Today, DeBrand is located in a 30,000-square-foot corporate and manufacturing space and employs nearly 100 people with retail shops in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis and a large e-commerce business. Using only the highest quality ingredients sourced locally and globally, the Indiana-based chocolatier focuses on providing first-class ambiance, packaging and outstanding customer service with a steadfast commitment to excellence.
What inspired you to become a chocolatier?
I grew up in a family business where they taught culinary classes and sold cake decorating and candy making supplies. I always loved creating things and all of the culinary arts, but I loved chocolates the most. That is what led me to starting DeBrand.
What are some favorite ingredients you look forward to using this time of year?
We just went from making marshmallows for Easter and we are going into the chocolate-covered strawberry season. We will feature a couple glace fruits after strawberries and then several different gelatos throughout the summer and probably the most popular seasonal item is our giant caramel apples, available in October.
Any advice for home bakers/chocolatiers who want to up their game?
Get inspiration from everywhere you go and be creative, not only with the ingredients that you use but also with the techniques and presentation of what you create.
How would you describe your cooking/baking style or philosophy?
I don’t like to measure things. I prefer to cook or bake by taste. That is one of the reasons why I work so well with my operations manager who has worked with me at DeBrand for over 30 years. She is a rule/recipe follower, and she is always weighing everything that I use when creating something new. She keeps detailed notes so once we finalize a product (sometime after 30-plus times), she has it documented so it can be recreated accurately.
What are some desserts you create at home?
I have made many different things over the years at home like cheesecakes, eclairs, ice-cream cakes, etc. just for fun, but I think that my favorite is various kinds of cookies. Cookies are my husband’s favorite.
What items are always in your fridge at home?
Sparkling water, nice cheeses, kale salad, fresh fruit.
If you could choose a favorite place in Indiana to visit, where would that be located and what would you eat?
Cake Bake in Carmel. I have enjoyed their quiche and other wonderful entrees. We don’t make cakes at DeBrand so for my cake craving, I love their Earl’s Court Chocolate Cake.