Watch now: Eat My Art turns chocolate into masterpieces | Life
KINGSPORT – As you walk into Erin Coffey’s new chocolate and candy shop, you might wonder what’s made of chocolate and what isn’t. The answer, however, is simple: anything that appears to be art is also edible.
“I want to do things that make people say, ‘Is that chocolate?’ “said Coffey. “I want an art gallery but it’s chocolate. All you see is chocolate and you can eat it. That’s why I called it Eat My Art – because you can have your cake and eat it too.
Coffey, 44, is originally from Long Beach, Calif., but has lived in the Kingsport area for 20 years. She opened Eat My Art Bonbons and Candies at 1880 N. Eastman Road, Suite 285, just before the end of 2021. But her experience extends beyond the Model City.
Coffey studied with Ewald Notter, who is considered one of the world’s leading chocolatiers and experts in the confectionery arts. The business owner also learned from her father, Jack Johnson, who was a pastry chef and culinary arts teacher.
For many years, Coffey also made elaborate cakes for celebrities such as former professional football player Terry Bradshaw and country pop singer Jessie James Decker.
“I got sick of it,” Coffey said, “and I love chocolate. I like it better than cake now. You travel with a cake and it doesn’t sit still. Chocolate yes.
Along with learning to work with chocolate, cakes and more, Coffey also has a degree in graphic design – as well as a passion for art.
“I’ve always been an artist,” Coffey said. “I like to create. I loved baking cakes and I love all things art, but when I did I wanted to do the same thing I did with a chocolate cake.
Sparkling high-heeled shoes line the shelves of her store, along with elaborate faberge eggs, cars, boxed guns with tiny bullets, and even a full-length baseball bat, all in chocolate.
The Coffey’s store also includes candies filled with an array of flavors behind the counter. But, like his other works, the chocolate candies are carefully designed and painted so as not to look like ordinary pieces of chocolate. Tiny gold pyramids, gemstones, and detailed gold squares include flavors and toppings like lime, coconut, and salted caramel, among others.
Coffey obviously puts a lot of work into the look of his candies and other creations.
But the taste is a detail that is not lost in the process.
Eat My Art’s creations are all made with couverture chocolate that Coffey shipped from his home state of California. The chocolate, she says, is reminiscent of her childhood favorite chocolate joint.
“I grew up going to See’s Candies,” Coffey said. “It’s the best chocolate you’ll ever eat. I shipped it here and it’s the same as what See uses. It’s more expensive, but it’s better quality and it’s good. It’s the best chocolate. It’s not like your average compound chocolate you find at Walmart or Walgreens. It’s like real couverture chocolate.
The one aspect See’s Candies lacked, Coffey said, was the artistic element.
“I wanted to bring something like that with a touch of art,” Coffey said. “It looks good and tastes good.”
Eat My Art dons white walls with black accents to create what Coffey calls a “fresh, clean, modern look.” It is also a sort of blank canvas for the chocolatier and the artist.
Coffey said she wanted to get into chocolate sculptures and create a sort of art gallery with a touch of chocolate.
“I want, when you walk in, to feel almost like old New York when you walk into an art gallery,” Coffey explained. “I remember going as a little girl to art galleries (in Los Angeles) and in Long Beach. I have always loved everything related to art.
Coffey’s designs, she said, are ideal for gifts or parties and her busiest time of year, Valentine’s Day, is right ahead. Coffey said she primarily decided to open her store to share her art with Northeast Tennessee while creating the art she loves the most.
“I guess it’s because I can paint and create things with my hands,” Coffey said when asked why she keeps working on her chocolate creations. “I kind of wanted to share my talents with people. A lot of people haven’t seen anything like it. I might not have opened up, but I create something you can eat that you don’t think you can eat. You can actually eat this. I just think it’s cool.
For more information on Eat My Art, visit https://www.eatmyart.store/.