Patty Denny and her Telluride Truffles
One of the great places to stop and shop in Telluride does not sell trendy rags, fashionable jewelry or fine art. Telluride Truffles sells, you guessed it, the finest of the fine chocolate, made under the watchful eye of founder/proprietor Patty Denny.
The story of Telluride Truffles follows the story of chocolate, a history dating back at least 1,500 years when the Mayans of Central America crushed cocoa beans into an unsweetened beverage. The Aztecs had a name for that beverage: xocolatl or bitter water. The Aztec ruler, Montezuma II, is said to have consumed 50 or more golden goblets filled with bitter water every day.
Want to learn more? Click the “play” button and listen to Patty Denny’s inspiring story.
Chocolate, also tagged “food of the gods,” was used in religious ceremonies for centuries and its seeds were traded as currency. The Spanish conquistador Cortes is said to have called chocolate “the divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue.” (Obviously Cortes was prescient. Chocolate is indeed good for your health. More on that coming up.) Years later in Europe, chocolate was prescribed for depression and made into love – and death – potions. (Its bitter flavor masked poisons.) You are clearly in good company if you find the allure of chocolate irresistible.
“Good quality dark chocolate eaten in moderate amounts makes an interesting addition to the diet – if you can afford the calories,” said integrative medicine guru Andrew Weill. As it turns out, chocolate contains antioxidants similar to those found in red wine, certain fruits and vegetables and certain teas. In fact, dark chocolate contains 14 times as many antioxidants as broccoli. (George H.W. Bush, are you listening?) Chocolate also provides minor amounts of B vitamins, copper, magnesium, iron and zinc, plus small amounts of theobromine, a mild stimulant, which seems to induce feelings of wellbeing, making the heart go pitter pat.
From a chemical perspective, chocolate is a wildly complex compound, containing more than 1,500 flavor elements. Good chocolate can be as complex and rewarding as wine – but wine contains only about 500 notes.
Remember the movie “Chocolat”? A red-caped Juliet Binoche swept into a rural French village on a mysterious breeze laced with cocoa and exotic spices, her valise filled with chocolate promising untold pleasures for the town’s inhabitants. Patty Denny is the Juliet Binoche of Telluride.
Patty is often asked if she started Telluride Truffles because she is passionate about chocolate. Her answer is a qualified yes: “I have always said that chocolate found me and I’m darn lucky it did.” The larger answer is the business itself: Denny was hardwired to become an entrepreneur just like her grandfather, father and brother.
Telluride Truffles officially opened for business in 1997, born out of party treats and the encouragement of friends. The triangular shapes of the truffles housed in an award-winning, signature triangular box defined and helped grow the little company. Patty built Telluride Truffles with wholesale and corporate accounts, direct sales on her website and at the local Farmers’ Market, but she avoided bricks-and-mortar in town because of high rents and a five-month off season. Either masochism or an inner voice screaming “You will be the exception to the rule” won the day: in March 2009, Telluride Chocolate Shop on Fir Street in the heart of Telluride opened its door. The shop is so successful, Patty is planning clones all over the state.