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My Chocolate Story June 11 2015

I am so excited to lauch my new website, selling my delicious handmade chocolates.   When I was 16 years old, I was looking for a little hobby to start.  While shopping with my Mom one day, we decided to stop into a candy store.  I told the owner of the store that I would like to learn how to make molded chocolates.  She sold me a few little supplies to get me started.   I have been making assorted chocolates since.

At the age of 21, I met my husband, Mike.  We were intoduced together by mutual friends, on a blind date.  I decided to make chocolate covered cherry cordials for dessert.  After eating a wonderful meal my friend had cooked for us, she took out the chocolates.  Mike asked me a question I have never heard from a man before.  "Where do you buy your chocolate supplies?"  I was shocked!!!  When did anyone ever care, let alone a man, where my supplies came from??  Well, I proceeded to tell him.  His next response was even more shocking!!!  He explained to me that his Aunt had owned the candy supply store and his Mother ran the business.  Yes, everyone..I knew my future Mother-In-Law before I met my husband.

 

Yes, over the years I did teach myself how to cook.  Well, I did have four children and husband to feed.  I enjoyed sharing the love and passion I had for food with my children. But chocolate was always an extra fun hobby and activity to work with.  Each year, with each child, I would be invited to his/her's class to do chocolate making.  How fun was that?  To see their eyes light up when I walked through their door.  I bet the student's Moms where especially happy to have their kids return home from school all wired up also.  Definitely, great memories.

Today, I bring you my hand picked, selection of specialty gourmet chocolates that I am very proud of.  I hope you continue to enjoy what my family and friends have enjoyed for many years.  


Article written by Englewood Sun Newspaper (printed Aug. 6, 2014) August 07 2014

Bonwill cooks up food, fun and fame
By JOEL S. LANGHAM
Sun Intern 

ENGLEWOOD — Linda Bonwill’s cooking skills weren’t acquired in a gourmet chef school.
Growing up in Connecticut in an Italian family, a love of the craft as a communal activity was instilled in her from a young age. She has memories of her grandmother rolling out pasta noodles and making cakes from scratch for sick family members. Sometimes ingredients were scarce, and the family had to make do with “extras” left over from other meals. Frugality and improvisation were essential to family meals. Her husband — also from an Italian family — has similar experiences. 
Those early childhood experiences with cooking in the home followed Bonwill as she raised four children of her own. She read labels on grocery items and tried to stick to wholesome homemade dishes when possible. In the fall, she bought pumpkins with her kids and they made pies together. In her words, she was always “teaching them the value of good food.”
She jokes that her son Michael once asked her to buy a cake for him at the store, only for her to return home with a cake mix he’d have to use to make it. Bonwill insisted that all her children, even those who didn’t share her passion for cooking, “at least learn how to follow a recipe.”
Learning the value of self-sufficiency and how to thrive as an adult continues with her grandchildren, who get an opportunity to switch off social media and engage in memory-making. When Bonwill entered a competition through the online recipe club, Just A Pinch, her primary motive was fun. But she won grand prizes, and she credits the money she earned from that competition with providing the funding necessary to compete in the 2012 World Food Championships. Her mindset upon entering the Championships was “to soak it all in, observe and come back with some knowledge,” to continue to learn the craft with passion.
Her initial entry for her category — a potato salad that includes bacon, avocado, blue cheese and tomatoes — won her the highest score among the top 10 side dishes. Her broccoli cheese soup, which included a roasted cauliflower garnish and a sweet chili sauce topping, won the final round, and Bonwill believes that it was her innovative use of the required food sponsor product, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and a related sponsor product, Kraft Velveeta Cheese, that impressed the judges. She was awarded $10,000. Bonwill has already qualified to re-enter the Championships held this fall, but she is still looking for sponsors.
Even as she continues to participate in worldwide culinary competitions, Bonwill prioritizes giving back to Englewood, which she describes as a “tight-knit” community. In addition to her work with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation, she shares her talent with local kids through cooking lessons, including candy making. But even in these lessons, as in her own personal experiences, cooking can express life values.
“I try to make it educational,” she says. “I say, look kids, the table’s a mess! What would happen if I put these clean boxes down?”
Bonwill makes sure to keep the kids involved and to engage their minds with skills for good living.
Her culinary advice is to keep it simple, using only a “handful of ingredients” that will stand out when tasted.
“I consider the basic homeowner,” she says. And while Bonwill agrees that creativity certainly counts in a competition, she doesn’t think judges expect or want anything fancy or complicated. Taking a cue from her humble beginnings in the craft at her grandmother’s table, Bonwill believes that she won in 2012 because “I kept it real. I kept it me.”
To be a sponsor, call Bonwill at 941-445-7343, visit her blog worldclasscooking.blogspot.com/ or log on to http://lindaschocolate.com/

Winning the "Side Dish" Category at World Food Championships in Vegas 2012 February 02 2014

LINDA BONWILL

 

WINNER OF SIDE DISH CATEGORY - WORLD FOOD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012

I grew up in a small Italian community in East Haven, Conn. My attributes of Italian heritage and food being a constant, ubiquitous staple throughout my life as the driving force behind my love of cooking and food. Together with Mike, my husband, we raised four children in a house that embraced food. I incorporated into their everyday activities, from picking fruit to experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. While some people call cooking an "art," I call it "therapy."  My kitchen was a place I can escape into my own little world of peace.

I qualified for the World Food Championships by winning grand prize in a Just a Pinch online qualification contest. I used the same Potato Cobb Salad that would eventually be featured as one of my two dishes at the WFC Final Table.

Relatively new to the competition cooking scene, I entered my first recipe contest two years ago. From there, I went on to audition for the hit Fox cooking show "MasterChef, not making it very far. That experience was enough to encourage me to start my own recipe blog (worldclasscooking.blogspot.com) and push myself to challenge my culinary creations.  I also created this blog to record my special recipes, especially so my children would be able to access them whenever they wanted to.

At the World Food Championships, my two dishes were Cobb Potato Salad and a Creamed Broccoli Cheese Soup. The Cobb Potato Salad included my original mayonnaise-based dressing with red skin potatoes, topped with turkey, bacon, avocado, egg, tomato, bleu cheese and scallions. The Creamed Broccoli Cheese Soup had sautéed broccoli, parsnips, celery and garlic that was pureed for creaminess, add in Philadelphia® Cream Cheese, chicken broth and Kraft® Velveeta and finished off with roasted cauliflower as a garnish and drizzled with sweet chili sauce. 

While I have created hundreds of different recipes, my recipe for success boils down to hard work, ambition and an undying love for food.  

Winning the title of the "Side Dish" Category has been such a great honor.  I thank everyone from World Food Championships, family and friends for all the encouraging support and great future opportunities.