It's a bountiful life: Sweet legacy
May/June 2014 California Bountiful magazine
Interview by Toni Scott
Photos by Richard Green
Fourth-generation owner still swirling and dipping at family's ice cream and candy shop
Following her family's tradition, Kasey Pulliam-Reynolds hand-makes candy and other sweets using as many local ingredients as possible, including butter, cream, honey and nuts.
Each week, Kasey Pulliam-Reynolds spends several hours hand-dipping chocolate candy for her family's ice cream and candy shop, a tedious yet tasty task that she calls a lost art. Along with her brother Nathan Pulliam, she is a fourth-generation owner of Shubert's, helping to run the business side of the 75-year-old Chico shop, in addition to making sweet treats.
Shubert's began as an ice cream shop. How did your family start making candy?
There was a candy store in town that was going out of business, and my grandfather told the owner he could bring his candy cases to Shubert's to sell out the rest of his candy. The partnership ended up working well—the cases are still here and are the ones we use today. My grandfather learned to make candy from the former candy shop owner a few years later, and we are still producing our own confections to this day.
What's the process to become a confectioner?
Most candymakers go through a two-year apprenticeship to learn how to hand-dip chocolate. I was mostly self-taught, picking up from the lessons of my mother, and trial and error.
Shubert's is an ice cream and candy shop founded in 1938.
What are some of your favorite experiences with your customers?
We have packed engagement rings in candy boxes, and there are husbands who bring back the same heart package every year to have it filled with candy. (We eventually have to convince them to buy a new one after all the wear and tear!) Also, we have a couple, married for 70 years, who come in after lunch at 11:30 a.m. every Friday to have their scoop of ice cream for dessert.
The conversation continues
What is your favorite candy to eat?
My favorite changes, but it is usually almond clusters. I love the local roasted, salted nuts, combined with the sweet taste of milk chocolate.
What would you tell someone who was interested in becoming a confectioner?
Have a lot of patience and time. Chocolate is an art—and it takes a long time to learn under the apprentice of someone who knows what they are doing. There is never a dull moment and everything impacts the quality of your end product: the chocolate, the temperature, humidity, cooking products and ingredients.
Why do you think there are so few confectioners who hand-dip chocolate?
It's a lost art. People don't grow up thinking they want to be confectioners, as great as it is. It is something that requires a lot of time, a lot of patience and is very expensive to get into.