Photo Gallery | Memphis chef tells stories through chocolate
Chef Phillip Ashley Rix believes every piece of chocolate should tell a story.
Vibrant truffles designs from royal blue hearts drizzled in red and gold to white chocolate pieces dipped in green certainly uphold to Rix's standard – but chocolate enthusiasts share the taste is as impressive as the artistry.
"I want people to recognize with creating different flavors," said Rix. "Some designers take a different approach, or some composers with music [take a different approach]. With 'Chocistry', it's about ingesting the artistry and chemistry of chocolate making, and making really elegant chocolate using blue cheese and savory ingredients you won't find anywhere else."
The Memphis native and self-taught chocolatier stands by his word with original concepts – one even hitting close to home celebrating the Bluff City's heritage with a barbecue chocolate. Other chocolates, like a Mexican vanilla bean dark chocolate, reflect international food inspiration. Either way, Rix is dedicated to building layers of flavors in his chocolates to make the consumer think about what they are eating.
"If it's spicy, it's not all one layer of heat. You get the heat on the top. It is an experience. Storytelling. Each chocolate has its own name, [the] ingredients have a purpose, some inspiration. They're all painted differently. They are like mini-novels," he said.
Philip Ashley Chocolates have more than 120 different flavors. Rix said what currently comes in a box of chocolates, will be completely different than what comes in a box a month from now.
With a goal to design, seek and create the largest line of designer chocolates focusing on dynamic truffles, Rix is in the works of moving into a commercial kitchen – which will have a storefront to sell his products. In the time being, he continues to work out of his home kitchen selling the specialty chocolates through online orders and events. Recently, he started selling boxes of chocolates at Gould's Spa locations.
Rix switch his career focus to the art of chocolate making in 2007 with no background in cooking or baking. He said it started after he walked out of a Godiva store knowing he could create something better than the Belgium chocolatier.
"No serious culinary training," he said recalling his business' start. "A lot of reading books on chocolate making, and sometimes [you have] a natural ability. I've always smelled well, so I can [tell] what's in it. And I've always been creative to see something and get imaginative."
Rix tries to stay as local as possible when buying ingredients for his chocolates, but when it comes to spices that are used around the world – Rix has to look elsewhere. Most of his ingredients are organic.
Last year, Rix along with local businesses started hosting events that paired wine and chocolates. Those events would rally roughly 20 people. Rix said the last event hosted more than 70 people, and he expects that number to grow.
Philip Ashley Chocolates' next event is at Napa Cafe in East Memphis on June 20. Rix said it will be a blindfolded tasting. You can visit his Facebook for more information.