Katrina Markoff

Chocolatier, Entrepreneur

Chicago

Entrepreneur and chocolate whiz Katrina Markoff is the founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, a luxury line of chocolates. Her culinary journey began when she left the United States for Paris, specifically Le Cordon Bleu. She then traveled the globe seeking different food experiences, from El Bulli in Spain to Southeast Asian street food. Markoff returned home and soon opened her first chocolate boutique in Chicago. Her luxury chocolates combine unusual ingredients (spices, flowers, roots, herbs) from all over the world; she has boutiques in New York, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, as well as an agro-tourism center in Belize. Wild Ophelia, her lower-priced line of fine chocolates, launched in 2011.

  • On September 27, 2012
    Katrina Markoff answered the question: Katrina Markoff

    What are Katrina Markoff’s favorite shops to visit when traveling?

    I just try to find information from the concierge at the hotel. Who the most significant artist in the area? Where is the best place for local crafts? Whether it’s ceramics or paintings or rugs, fabrics, linens — whatever the area is known for, I find it out. And I find out where the best food markets are, too. Who is making beer? Is there anyone making wine? Is there anyone making cheese? I just try to find out who is the best at making what.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Katrina Markoff answered the question: Katrina Markoff

    What are Katrina Markoff’s favorite things to bring home from her travels?

    I’m always bringing back ingredients. I also like bringing back some kind of object of art whether it’s pottery or a painting. Our stores have a lot of different eclectic items in them. When I was in Turkey I had artisans hand-paint designs on nine different Turkish vases. I have some in New York and some in the Beverly Hills boutique. I try to bring back whatever I think is culturally interesting about the area I’m visiting and it often ends as an object of art in one of the stores.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Katrina Markoff answered the question: Katrina Markoff

    What does Katrina Markoff always travel with?

    I’m a big journal person. I love the feel of writing on paper and then being able to look through it again. It provides a sense of place, where I was when I was writing it, the date — all that kind of stuff. I like to write on paper for brainstorming because it’s kind of open ended. So I travel with paper and good pens. And I don’t like any lines in my journals. I try to get handmade ones when I travel.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Katrina Markoff answered the question: Katrina Markoff

    What are Katrina Markoff’s favorite hotels?

    I’m really a boutique hotel kind of person. I always try to find the small intimate little charming place. I’m kind of a romantic and I like charming and quaint. I don’t like modern hotels. I never really feel comfortable in a really modern, sleek hotel. If I’m in Japan, I like to stay in a traditional Japanese bathing center kind of hotel. I like to do whatever is of the culture, and I find that boutique hotels tend to represent the culture the best. Usually when they’re smaller the hotels are more intimate and the service is better — not always, but I like to think so. I love the Draycott Hotel in London — ask for a larger room. And the Lydmar Hotel in Stockholm.
     
  • On September 27, 2012
    Katrina Markoff answered the question: Katrina Markoff

    What are Katrina Markoff’s favorite travel destinations?

    Paris is a classic for me because I went to school there [Le Cordon Bleu] and it’s where I got my first love of cuisine. I also find it so enchanting. It is one of the most enchanted, bohemian, café-culture, architecture-minded, foodie centric, design-centric cities — it’s everything I really love and value in a city. I also love Nashville because I went to school there [at Vanderbilt University]. I love southern culture, and I love the little hidden gems of music spots, old little diners — the kind of places where there’s just so much charm. I love Nashville quite a bit, but I’m not that much of a city person.
     
    One of the best travel experiences I’ve had was in Croatia. I went there and I thought the food was probably the best I’ve had in the whole world, honestly. I couldn’t believe the olive oil. It was the most spectacular, world class, never-tried-anything-like-it olive oil. The calamari was unbelievable. There are a million islands and you get on a boat and visit all these little islands. We had a ship captain take us to the best restaurants on each one of the islands. Make a stop on the island Luka Sipan. Kod Marka is the best Dalmatian restaurant in Croatia — a true food experience. When I travel it’s all about the food.
     
    Sicily is another place I love. It’s one of the best food places I’ve visited. In Sicily I came across this meat and chocolate festival on the Amalfi Coast. They had a whole day celebrating meat and chocolate! I found the most incredible pistachios in Sicily, they only harvest them every two years and they have super high oil content. They taste amazing and they’re bright bright bright green. Instead of being hard, they’re soft because they have so much oil in them and it makes them taste so good. They make an amazing pistachio pesto there.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Katrina Markoff answered the question: Katrina Markoff

    What are Katrina Markoff’s favorite travel destinations?

    Paris is a classic for me because I went to school there [Le Cordon Bleu] and it’s where I got my first love of cuisine. I also find it so enchanting. It is one of the most enchanted, bohemian, café-culture, architecture-minded, foodie centric, design-centric cities — it’s everything I really love and value in a city. I also love Nashville because I went to school there [at Vanderbilt University]. I love southern culture, and I love the little hidden gems of music spots, old little diners — the kind of places where there’s just so much charm. I love Nashville quite a bit, but I’m not that much of a city person.
     
    One of the best travel experiences I’ve had was in Croatia. I went there and I thought the food was probably the best I’ve had in the whole world, honestly. I couldn’t believe the olive oil. It was the most spectacular, world class, never-tried-anything-like-it olive oil. The calamari was unbelievable. There are a million islands and you get on a boat and visit all these little islands. We had a ship captain take us to the best restaurants on each one of the islands. Make a stop on the island Luka Sipan. Kod Marka is the best Dalmatian restaurant in Croatia — a true food experience. When I travel it’s all about the food.
     
    Sicily is another place I love. It’s one of the best food places I’ve visited. In Sicily I came across this meat and chocolate festival on the Amalfi Coast. They had a whole day celebrating meat and chocolate! I found the most incredible pistachios in Sicily, they only harvest them every two years and they have super high oil content. They taste amazing and they’re bright bright bright green. Instead of being hard, they’re soft because they have so much oil in them and it makes them taste so good. They make an amazing pistachio pesto there.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Katrina Markoff answered the question: Katrina Markoff

    What are Katrina Markoff’s favorite travel destinations?

    Paris is a classic for me because I went to school there [Le Cordon Bleu] and it’s where I got my first love of cuisine. I also find it so enchanting. It is one of the most enchanted, bohemian, café-culture, architecture-minded, foodie centric, design-centric cities — it’s everything I really love and value in a city. I also love Nashville because I went to school there [at Vanderbilt University]. I love southern culture, and I love the little hidden gems of music spots, old little diners — the kind of places where there’s just so much charm. I love Nashville quite a bit, but I’m not that much of a city person.
     
    One of the best travel experiences I’ve had was in Croatia. I went there and I thought the food was probably the best I’ve had in the whole world, honestly. I couldn’t believe the olive oil. It was the most spectacular, world class, never-tried-anything-like-it olive oil. The calamari was unbelievable. There are a million islands and you get on a boat and visit all these little islands. We had a ship captain take us to the best restaurants on each one of the islands. Make a stop on the island Luka Sipan. Kod Marka is the best Dalmatian restaurant in Croatia — a true food experience. When I travel it’s all about the food.
     
    Sicily is another place I love. It’s one of the best food places I’ve visited. In Sicily I came across this meat and chocolate festival on the Amalfi Coast. They had a whole day celebrating meat and chocolate! I found the most incredible pistachios in Sicily, they only harvest them every two years and they have super high oil content. They taste amazing and they’re bright bright bright green. Instead of being hard, they’re soft because they have so much oil in them and it makes them taste so good. They make an amazing pistachio pesto there.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Katrina Markoff answered the question: Katrina Markoff

    How does Katrina Markoff find the best foods when traveling?

    I always do a little bit of research first, but you don’t’ learn everything beforehand. I think finding foodie-centric hotels is helpful because you can ask the staff questions about where the best cheese shop is located. Or I just go to the good restaurants and say, ‘Hey, I want to learn who’s making the best cheese, the best wine, etc.’ They always know somebody and it becomes a fun journey, like I’m on a quest to find out who makes the best of everything. I like to keep it open-ended, because if you preplan everything it’s kind of boring. Build in time to explore.