You all know how much I like to talk about the fantastic attractions here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country. What’s even more fun is to give a few more details, let you in on a local’s point of view for a specific attraction – like the really neat place you’ll find just a few miles down the road from Cody, in the little town of Meeteetse, Wyoming… believe it or not, in this town of about 350 people, there’s a gourmet Chocolatier whose yummy creations are putting him on the international map!
Tim Kellogg was a young saddle bronc rider from Meeteetse who had grown up watching his grandmother make candy and other confections. He himself had become pretty handy in the kitchen, coming up with chocolate creations of his own and sharing them with friends and family. So in 2004, when he wanted to raise money for a new saddle, his mother suggested that he make and sell some of his chocolates. His first response was, “no way!”, but he ended up selling them at a local event, and the Meeteetse Chocolatier was born!
I recently visited Tim at his shop in Meeteetse. It’s in a quaint wooden building, on the same block as the Meeteetse Museum (there are really only a couple of city blocks in Meeteetse, so it’s not hard to find!). Upon entering the shop, you’re immediately struck by how classy and cool the store is. There is a display shelf to the right, with bags of candy coated pretzels and gourmet chocolate bark. As you walk in further there is a glass case that holds tray after tray of truffles, chocolate-filled croissants, puff pastries, brownies, and other decadent chocolate delights! (My mouth is watering just thinking about this…) And in the kitchen, when he’s not working as a ranch hand, you’ll find cowboy Chocolatier Tim Kellogg creating chocolate confections that rival those found in gourmet shops in big cities!
One of the coolest things about this shop is that each and every item in his shop is hand-made by Tim himself – he has no kitchen employees, no apprentices, just one cowboy making amazing chocolates. I asked Tim how long it took him to fill a display case, and he said that the truffle case takes him about three hours, the pastry case takes 5-6 hours, and then there’s the dessert case, which he says is the hardest to fill. So, the natural question to ask next was, “how do you find time to do it all?” He said his time management skills have definitely sharpened over the past few years… and he doesn’t sleep much, he added with a grin.
Let’s talk a minute about those famous truffles – they come in flavors from mocha to peanut butter to Amaretto to Coor’s beer! They absolutely melt in your mouth. And here’s another interesting point about Tim’s confections – they are not meant to be stored or saved, they are meant to be enjoyed immediately! He doesn’t wholesale to anyone, because the ingredients he uses (organic, local, fresh, no preservatives at all) won’t stay fresh beyond a few days at the most.
So, if his customers all have to come to him in Meeteetse (or at a regional event), how have people come to know about him? Tim says that he gets quite a few visitors who come in and out of Yellowstone National Park, and many of them have heard about the Meeteetse Chocolatier from friends who have visited before. He’s also getting great word of mouth from the state of Wyoming tourism office and statewide visitor centers, and some fabulous feature articles that have been written about what he does. In fact, Tim told me that he was interviewed last year by a French TV crew, who aired a piece about him back in France. And so just last week, a group of visitors from France came into his shop – they had actually re-routed their vacation just so they could stop there! And he’s been invited to work with a French Chocolatier when he goes overseas this fall.
“What makes it all worth it?” I asked him… and he said that in addition to all the great people he gets to meet, he also gets to really hone his creative skills, coming up with new ideas and new flavors (like the Sage Brownie… oh my goodness!) – and then he gets to eat what he makes!
The Meeteetse Chocolatier – a must-stop when you’re visiting Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country! Don’t miss it!
Until next time, I’ll be taste-testing truffles in Buffalo Bill’s Country…