Until a few months ago, Stacey Westfeather thought that, when it came to all things chocolate, nothing was better than a Hershey bar.
“It’s what I grew up eating, and I seriously loved them,” Westfeather said. “The other day, I was going to make s’mores, so I got out the Hershey bars. But they just didn’t taste right. Something just seemed off about it. I asked my daughter if she thought there was something wrong.
“She just gave me a look and said, ‘No, Mom, there’s nothing wrong,’ ” Westfeather said. “She said, ‘You’ve just got used to eating really good chocolate.’ ”
Eating good chocolate is something of an occupational hazard — or necessity — when one is employed, as Westfeather is, by Markham & Fitz, a “bean to bar” chocolatier based in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Markham & Fitz has its manufacturing and retail shop in Bentonville’s Eighth Street Market, a collection of mainly food-based businesses that Westfeather compares to Tulsa’s The Boxyard.
So far, Antoinette Baking Co., Magic City Books and Whole Foods are carrying some of Markham & Fitz’s products, but Westfeather is working to find outlets for the company’s chocolate at other Tulsa locations.
The company was founded by Lauren Blanco and Preston Stewart in 2014, focusing on ethical sourcing and sustainability of ingredients as priorities.
“We work with specific farmers in the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Haiti, Columbia and Vietnam,” Westfeather said. “Everything is done in house, from sorting the beans to roasting to crafting the bars.”
Markham & Fitz makes eight different chocolate bars, which include such items as the 60 percent Bolivia Dark Chocolate Bar, the 75 percent Haiti Dark Chocolate Bar and the 85 percent Brain Food Dark Chocolate Bar, so named for the inclusion of such “brain foods” as blueberry, maca root and açai berry powders, plus wild organic dried blueberries, almonds and cashews.
The company also offers truffles, as well as more exotic items such as cocoa tea, made from a by-product of the chocolate-making process, regular and peppermint hot chocolate mixes, and “Cracked Cacao,” cacao nibs cooked with sugar, bourbon and spices.
“It’s great on ice cream,” Westfeather said, helpfully.
Westfeather’s job with the company is primarily to make Markham & Fitz chocolate known beyond the environs of Northwest Arkansas.
“I’m a native Oklahoman, and I thought Tulsa would be a great market for our products,” Westfeather said. “We’re wanting to place our products with local retailers because that’s been a hallmark of our business from the beginning.”
For those who can’t wait to get their cacao-loving hands on Markham & Fitz chocolate, products are available online at markhamandfitz.com.