Chef Mike Esposito cooks food for Castleton College students at Huden Dining Hall, but on the side he is also the owner and founder of Fat Chef Confectionary’s. The 35-year old creates coffee, honey, chocolate, salted, and plain caramels in his kitchen at home and sells them to local stores in the area.
The caramels come in thick smooth rectangles and are color coded including red for salted, black for chocolate, orange for coffee, yellow for honey, and white for original. Each bag consists of six pieces and a variety pack contains two of each flavor.
Esposito was born and raised in Rutland. He graduated from New Hampshire College, now known as Southern New Hampshire University, in 2001 with a degree of culinary arts.
He said he stated to make caramels for his friends a few years back. One of his friends was so impressed, he encouraged him to start selling them.
“Once I added salt to the caramels, my friends went bananas,” said Esposito.
The debut of Fat Chef Confectionary’s was at the Outside Farmer’s Market in Rutland in May 2014. Because of a banner that ran across his table with a catchy name and caricature of his face, he said his booth was successful.
“People kept on asking me if that was my face on the banner, which it was,” he said with excitement.
Esposito considers the caramels to be an impulse item, something customers aren’t typically shopping for, but that sits next to a register and the person all of the sudden wants to have it.
“Every candy product that has the name Fat Chef Confectionary’s on it is cooked, cut, wrapped, bagged, and labeled all by myself,” said Esposito. “Having a full time job, and a business on the side is like a juggling act.”
But he said he has a plan to manage supply and demand.
From start to finish, the caramel product can be produced in a day, and he said he currently has a small stockpile at home as well.
A sample of the gourmet, salted caramel variety was handed out to a group of college students sitting around watching TV on a Wednesday night. All who gave it a try wanted another.
“I could eat these caramel candies everyday, ‘til the day I die,” said Castleton junior Taylor Noonan.
Stores selling them in Rutland include Bellomos Market, Terrill Street Discount Beverage, Olivia’s Market, and Rutland Country Store. Fat Chef Confectionary’s also makes an appearance at The Phat Italian Market and Deli in Killington, Bridges Country Store in Mendon, Beverage King in Bomoseen and the Jiffy Mart in West Rutland.
“These candies started off great,” said an employee at Beverage King. “College students love it because he works right at the school.”
Orders can also be made at Esposito’s Facebook page, Fat Chef Confectionary’s. Liking his Facebook page will keep customers up to date about news of the sweet caramels. The cost of the individual flavor packs is $5, while the variety pack cost $8.