OREM -- As the Jazz get ready for the playoffs, Utah has another "home team" that just made a clean sweep at its national competition. Amano Artisan Chocolate brought home the gold, silver and bronze.
"We feel like we've created a monster," says Art Pollard, founder of Amano Artisan Chocolate.
In a few short years, Pollard has created a chocolate sensation, winning international and now national acclaim for a product more associated with Europe than Orem, Utah.
"Everything that we do is all about perfection and being totally about creating the perfect flavor," Pollard says.
Amano Chocolate recently won gold, silver and bronze at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon Awards. It's a lofty honor, but not a surprise to his first and still best customer: Caputo's Market in Salt Lake City.
"With one taste, I instantly knew that it was just absolutely world class," says Matthew Caputo, director of marketing for Caputo's Market.
Caputo's goes through cases of Amano chocolate, even on a slow day. Customers have come to recognize and are willing to pay $7 for chocolate bars made with beans from all over the world, especially in the case of one limited-edition bar.
"The beans are exceedingly rare, and you have to horseback ride about four hours into the mountains of Venezuela to be able to get these beans. The flavor's absolutely amazing," Pollard says.
The critics agree, to the point that this maker in an unlikely place is under pressure to beat his own standard.
"I think coming out of Orem, Utah, was probably a disadvantage for him to be honest, and his bars had to be better because of it," Caputo says.
Amano's Madagascar bar won gold in this most recent competition. It's the same bar that won gold at the "Olympics" of chocolate earlier at the London Academy competition.