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TCHO New American Chocolate

21C Museum Hotel offers TCHO some downright legendary Southern Hospitality

21C Museum Hotel listed as one of best places to stay in the world by readers of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine

Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown know how to do things right. For one thing, they’re really good at collecting contemporary art, and they love sharing their collection with art lovers and art novices alike. They’re really good at attracting smart and interesting people to collaborate with, mentor, etc. And they’re extremely good at hospitality, as their award winning and ultra popular boutique hotel in Louisville, KY proves. 21C Museum/Hotel is pretty much the hippest thing happening in my old hometown. And I was back there last week to help usher in TCHO for their turn down service.

The happy and ultra helpful staff were all wearing TCHO Tshirts the day of the launch, and there were huge bowls full of TCHO at both the front desk of the hotel and the restaurant. Nice touch!

That night, Steve and Laura Lee hosted a dinner in honor of Ezra Kellerman, Daan Roosegaarde and Leslie Lyons, three artists participating in the Ideas Festival, a sort of Southern-style TED conference. The dinner featured a 5 course, chocolate infused extravaganza created by Executive Chef, Michael Paley, from the hotel’s restaurant, Proof on Main. The menu consisted of:

  • Amuse Bouche: roasted fresh bacon (yepper, bacon and chocolate, check!), watermelon, blu di Bufala, 68% TCHOPro, and smoked cocoa powder
  • Early Autumn Pumpkin Soup: creme fraiche, pecan bread crumbs, shaved TCHO chocolate
  • Tuscan Cured Swordfish: eggplant stewed with chocolate and cinnamon, cucumber pine nut gazpacho
  • Roasted Lamb Rack: braised Swiss chard, panelle, TCHO mole
  • Poached Asian Pear: TCHOPro and caramel gelato, shortbread cookie

It was an inspired meal and oh so flavorful.

Steve WIlson congratulates Michael Paley on an inventive and exquisite dinner:

The dinner guests were an inspired and inspiring lot themselves. Kulapat Yantrasast, architect for the new wing of the Speed Museum, was there along with Lisa Resnik, the head of the Speed’s capital campaign.

Luyanda Mpahlwa, of MMA Architects in Cape Town, was also at the dinner. He was on hand to accept the CurryStone design prize, awarded during the Idea Festival last year. But because he was once an antiapartheid fighter imprisoned with Nelson Mandela, he has never been able to get a US visa until this year. I tried to convince him that all of America was just like Steve and Laura Lee’s Louisville, but he wasn’t buying it. Now he hopes to spend lots of time in the US, and to come see the TCHOcolate factory next time.

Local architect, entrepreneur and a dear old friend of mine, Mose Putney, is also an investor in TCHO. Shown here with Dorka Keehn, a San Francisco activist, artist and all around fabulous female, and Lindsay Moreman, another fabulous female, lifelong friend since high school, and designer/stylist/artist.

Steve Wilson on the left, Alice Grey Stites, director of the Art without Walls project and wife of my childhood tennis partner (!), Laura Lee Brown, and Tiffany Shlain (with hat), San Francisco filmmaker, new mom and IT girl, who opened the Idea Festival with a screening of her work in progress, Connected: A stream-of-consciousness ride through the interconnectedness of humankind.

We all went back to our beds that night to find 2 fabulous pieces of TCHO chocolate on our pillows. What a perfect match, 21C + TCHO!

The next morning, Daan Roosegaarde gave a fabulous talk about his beautiful and engaging interactive work and had a wonderful installation on Main Street.

On Saturday, I rode out to Woodland Farm, where Steve and Laura Lee go to decompress, ride horses, raise bison and grow the vegetables they serve at Proof on Main. I got friendly with one of their charges:

Private chef Schoen, who was just at the TCHO factory in San Francisco earlier in the week, got more than friendly with another bison and served it to us for lunch with a fabulous red wine and pepper sauce, beans from the garden, freshly picked salad, and of course an apple tart with TCHOPro for dessert! Turns out bison is the leanest red meat there is, with no more cholesterol than chicken. And it’s mighty tasty, too…

My friends in Kentucky, and especially at 21C are way into good food, slow food, locally grown, seasonal produce, etc. Here’s their prize winning country ham.

And here are some shots of the art and atmosphere at the hotel. Even though my parents still live in town, 21C is TCHO’s home in Louisville!