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Like Willy Wonka, this Memphis chocolatier wants his sweets to tell stories

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A box of luxury chocolates from the Soul Food collection

A box of luxury chocolates from Phillip Ashley Rix. (Courtesy Rix)

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My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

Phillip Ashley Rix’s chocolate business started with a dream, a love for chocolate and respect for Willy Wonka.

“The thing that has always stood out to me [in the movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”] was that stick of gum that had the tomato soup, the roast beef, the potatoes,” Rix said. “When I was researching other chocolate companies, I was really looking for less of what was being done and more of what was not being done.”

That translated into chocolate pairings that truly go off the beaten path: blue cheese, fried chicken, collard greens and cornbread, apricot and Gorgonzola, dates and red wine. The list goes on.

Rix is part of the growing number of chefs who are forgoing formal training at culinary schools. Between 2017 and 2020, the number of culinary programs in the country dropped by 20%, and in the last two decades, enrollment in culinary schools has been slashed to a fraction of what it used to be.

That hasn’t held Rix back, though. His Memphis, Tennessee-based brand was recently named the exclusive chocolatier of Cadillac, and he still has lofty goals for the future.

“That’s why we keep making chocolates. It’s like every chocolate should tell a story, so [we have] a lot of chocolate to make.”

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