Words, photos and video by Olivia Bauso
Can chocolate really save the world? One local chocolatier thinks so.
Laughing Gull Chocolates is a community and family-friendly business found in North Winton Village. Owned and operated by chocolate-lover Lindsay Tarnoff, the brand new storefront aims to celebrate local businesses and community groups. With her seven-month old daughter on her lap, Lindsay shares her journey to Rochester and her hope to save the world-- one truffle at a time.
Lindsay Tarnoff grew up baking with her mother, sisters and grandmother in Rhode Island. She says, “My grandmother really instilled the love of baking in me.” Lindsay expanded her chocolate and pastry education at Johnson and Wales University, and began making truffles with friends for fun around the holidays. She soon married her love for making chocolate and her passion for community when she began sourcing locally and ethically; Laughing Gull Chocolates was born of this marriage.
The business’s name serves as an homage to Lindsay’s grandmother, a bird-lover and chocoholic alike. Lindsay explains, “Once she hit her 90's, my grandmother only wanted to eat chocolate. She made people happy, and chocolate makes people happy, so it just kind of fit.”
All of the chocolate used in Lindsay’s creations is bought through direct trade, a sourcing method that signifies farmers are receiving better than fair living wages and all farming is done using sustainable methods. She explains, “A lot of the chocolate we get in this country is harvested using slave labor. When you’re young and in school you learn that slavery is over, but that’s just not the case. I didn’t want to be a part of the problem, and I didn’t want to boycott chocolate, so I made myself part of the solution.” Much of Lindsay’s motivation and mission is to continue educating the community on this issue: “I want everyone to know where chocolate comes from and that there are different choices they can make about where they get their food.” She also aims to branch out into job training and workforce development as well.
Laughing Gull was founded about four years ago, and set up shop in Rochester on February 3, 2018. Prior to the store’s opening, Lindsay sold her premium chocolates at the Rochester Public Market and other local farmers’ markets. Located on Main Street near East High School, the shop is home to Lindsay’s kitchen, where all the making and experimentation happens-- alongside her daughter’s play pen, of course.
Watch some of the making in action: Lindsay finishes off her Raspberry Truffles below.
In store, Lindsay offers a variety of her hand-made chocolate truffles, chocolate bark and chocolate sauce. She also carries products from other local makers, like Guglielmo’s Sauce, Flour City Pasta, Sweet & Cute Coffee Syrup and more. She says, “I wanted to support other local businesses and work in collaboration with them. They are a huge part of being a part of a community.”
In addition to selling local products, Lindsay welcomes community groups (like moms’ groups and book clubs) in her space, and hopes to host poetry slams and other events at in the future. She also teaches a variety of chocolate-related workshops.
Learn more about Lindsay and the history of chocolate at "Introduction to Chocolate Making" on April 16th. Students will make their very own truffles of choice, and go home with their handmade creations!