Gourmet Boutique: Endless Chocolate In A Limited Space
Tucked back on the second floor of the Westin Copley Place Hotel, Anya Zelfond packs a world of chocolate into a suitcase-sized shop.
Gourmet Boutique is reminiscent of what one might expect to find in a Willy Wonka movie. Every precious inch of display space is crammed with treats from all over the world. From floor to ceiling, products from France, Belgium, and other expected sources are side-by-side with exotic bars and bon-bons from Vietnam and Lithuania. Australia has a section. Artisan chocolates from Italy and the United States pop up here and there.
The diversity is rivaled only by the selection. It’s a chocolate lover’s dream.
Gourmet Boutique opened in 2004, born from Zelfond’s passion for travel and penchant for gift-giving tasty morsels to loved ones. At first she considered opening up shop somewhere in suburbia, but was concerned about finding success in a small town center. Instead, she chose the Westin hotel because of the metropolitan locale. The heart of Boston seemed a better fit.
The original concept for the store was heavy on European chocolates and little else. Finding it difficult to maintain the selection and variety she envisioned Zelfond established a small importing company and began importing directly, allowing her greater control and access to the foods she loves.
Zelfond acquired her chocolate knowledge by “consuming an insane amount of chocolate and reading.” Her chocolatey prowess hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. She often fields inquiries from mall management companies looking to become the next Gourmet Boutique landing spot. Are there any plans for expanding? “It depends,” she replies coyly, “I would need to find the right circumstances.”
With no imminent plans to grow, Zelfond can focus on her 2018 goal of sourcing chocolates from eastern Europe including her homeland, Russia. She’s also looking into offering products from New Zealand. She’ll consider anything, though. “I’m always looking for great chocolate,” she says.
Silly question, but does she eat the stuff? “Every day.” Her favorite chocolate? For now, at least, it’s French chocolatier Maison Bonnat’s Porcelana. “It’s like chocolate butter.” How about a favorite style? No luck. Laughing a bit as she shakes her head, Zelfond responds, “I can’t. I love it all!”
Gourmet Boutique also sells truffles from Chocolat Moderne and macarons from Macaron Cafe, both in New York City. While confections are the mainstay of products offered, It’s not just sweets on the menu. A selection of caviar, foie gras products, teas, and coffees are offered as well. As Zelfond puts it, “We’re a luxury gift shop.”
Even if it’s a tiny one.
10 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617.266.2906, gourmetboutique.net