Veteran chefs Jon and Vicci Coughlin prove that practice makes perfect with their ambrosial offerings at the Harbourtown Fudge shop of Port Stanley. The couple, who own and run the Telegraph House Bed & Breakfast, have recently decided to offer house-made fudge and other traditional confectionary delights at their B&B, housed in a beautiful Victorian heritage building on Main Street.
Following years of long hours and hard work in the restaurant business, including Billy’s Deli Restaurant in London, Jon and Vicci have successfully transitioned from owning and running restaurants to the less labour-intensive atmosphere of a bed and breakfast with an attached sweets shop. Living a professional chef’s dream, this couple has taken the opportunity to slow down and specialize in fields of interest, including chocolate-making and the art of artisanal fudge.
Following professional training in chocolate-making at the Culinary Institute of America, California campus, the chefs have been playing trial and error with the temperamental art. Learning that our humid climate is not conducive to the art has given these professionals the opportunity to focus on their skills in the off-season when the temperatures have dropped and their free time has increased. They will be right back at it in the fall and throughout the holiday season, offering specialty handcrafted chocolates for the true chocolate lovers on your gift list.
The focus of the shop and the star of the show is the decadent seasonal house-made fudge. Made with real butter and the love of a passionate chef, their fudge is of highest quality, texture, and taste. As Vicci explains, “The turnover is so quick that our fudge is fresher and creamier than the average product. It is all made in-house so there is no shipping, and the smaller batches mean less time spent on the shelf.” After sampling their two best sellers, chocolate and maple, I can say with confidence that it has reset my standard for a proper fudge. The consistency, attention to detail, and expertise are more than evident in the perfect texture and flavour of the product. Jon explains, “At first we were ‘MacGyvering’ our way through the process with a homemade kettle using our 20-quart mixer bowl as a double boiler and a step stool over the stovetop.” Now with a professional tilt kettle, both the process and the product have been perfected. There are at least 16 to 20 varieties available, inspired by seasonality and the chefs’ adventurous creativity. Look for flavours such as Pumpkin, Cabernet Chocolate, and Whiskey fudge, plus many more.
As a member of Savour Elgin, the shop also offers local products for retail and utilizes them in their recipes. These include Crocker Honey of Elgin County and Rogers Maple Syrup of Port Stanley. You will also find nostalgia-inspired candies suited to this beautiful heritage home. A trip to Harbourtown Fudge is a lovely step backwards in time that leaves a sweet aftertaste.
Telegraph House Bed & Breakfast
205 Main Street, Port Stanley
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Christie Massé is a graduate of the Stratford Chefs School and now runs Crust Catering & Bakery in St. Thomas. www.crustcatering.ca.