You may have read about how Greenville, South Carolina, has emerged as a leading culinary city for innovation in the retail sector. Elizabeth Logan McDaniel has been at the forefront of this development since 2015 with her small-batch artisan LaRue Fine Chocolate.

Her curious nature and love of food and beverage led her to culinary classes and vineyard tours in Thailand, Chile, France, Spain, Italy and more. McDaniel worked for more than 10 years as a fine wine representative for a large distributor in South Carolina. This career path allowed her to meet the local chefs and restauranteurs who had begun driving Greenville’s reputation for foodies.

“My years in the wine industry gave me an understanding of flavor profiles and the importance of achieving balance on the palette,” McDaniel reflects.

With encouragement from the local chefs and restauranteurs, in 2014, she quit her job and hopped on a plane to Vancouver to take a master chocolatier course. She received a Professional Chocolatier certificate with honors, as well as achieved the rank of Maitre Chocolatier from Ecole Chocolat. In 2015, in her studio with her niece as her only assistant, LaRue Fine Chocolate was born.

Since, LaRue Fine Chocolate has built a strong base of loyal followers, eager to taste the next innovation that emerges from McDaniel’s creative mind. The Dora LaRue is a peanut butter, graham cracker crunch enrobed in milk chocolate. The GrandMa, milk chocolate is made with Grand Marnier enrobed in milk chocolate with candied orange zest. The Lavender Love is made with lavender and honey dark chocolate enrobed in dark chocolate.

Next for McDaniel and LaRue Fine Chocolate is her cafe, which she plans to open in the historic Poe West building. The cafe will be open for “guests to grab a chef’s choice” box of chocolates to go, create their own collection or sit and linger a while to enjoy decadent dessert or cheese plate. She is planning for a late fall/early winter opening.

“I’m looking forward to hosting roll-your-own chocolate making events, chocolate classes and truffle and beverage pairing events, in time for the holidays,” McDaniel says.