Ashland Daily Press Article: Le Cordon Bleu-Trained Chocolatier and Pastry Chef Opens Store in Washburn

Photo by Hope McLeod Ginamarie Kinney Anderson, former pastry chef for Wild Rice, has opened a new chocolate/pastry shop with her husband David called Harbor House Sweets located in downtown Washburn.

Photo by Hope McLeod
Ginamarie Kinney Anderson, former pastry chef for Wild Rice, has opened a new chocolate/pastry shop with her husband David called Harbor House Sweets located in downtown Washburn.


By Hope McLeod Staff Writer

WASHBURN — What distinguishes a mediocre piece of chocolate from one that sets off bells and whistles in the mouth?

Ginamarie Kinney-Anderson, a Cordon Blue graduated pastry chef and chocolatier can answer that question. She can also demonstrate it at Harbor House Sweets, a new store she and her husband David opened on October 6 at 127 W. Bayfield Street in downtown Washburn.

Besides fine chocolates, Kinney-Anderson also makes pastries for all occasions: cakes, cheesecakes, swirling white and dark chocolate muffins, and coming soon, wine-bread. In addition, she jars homemade jams made from local berries, and next summer she’ll be cranking up some homemade ice cream and sorbets. To top if off, she sells specialty coffees.

Since Apple Festival weekend Kinney-Anderson has hardly gotten any sleep.

“I did a little sneak preview on Saturday and Sunday during Applefest and we also had a booth in Bayfield,” said Kinney-Anderson, a chocolate-eyed Italian who as a child cooked alongside her non-English speaking great grandmother, learning the savory and sweet mysteries of her ancestors. “It was hectic here. We sold out of our cheesecakes on Saturday. So I was here late Saturday making more. Then we sold out early on Sunday.”

It continues to this day, especially with her hand-dipped, finely shaped chocolates with names such as Sea Salt, Coffee Cream, Dulce de Leche. For those who’ve seen the movie “Chocolate,” well, the wind has blown into town a very special and happiness-producing business.

On October 8, a steady stream of curious customers, including Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald and his wife, waltzed into Harbor House Sweets to sample the goods.

“The peanut cluster with dark chocolate was a delightful treat,” he said a few days later. “I can’t wait to go back to try everything else!”

Coming back for more is exactly what Kinney-Anderson has in mind.

For readers who don’t know this couple, they have owned a house in town since 2000. David, aka Christopher, grew up in Washburn and comes from a long line of successful Washburn grocers. For over 120 years, the Andersons have run various grocery stores, including the Washburn IGA, which they co-own with the Bitzer family.

“We met in Nevada, lived in Arizona and moved here,” said Kinney-Anderson, a native of Rochester, New York.

In ‘08, when she was studying at Le Cordon Bleu in the Twin Cities, they had a place in the Twin Cities. And in ’09 when interning in Naples, Florida with a Belgium chocolatier and two chefs (one French, one Danish), they had a place in Florida.

“We still had our home here, because my husband has his business in Washburn. He’s an electrician and owns Anderson Electric,” Kinney-Anderson said.

The couple has two children, a girl, Davina (11) and a boy, Hakon (8). When in Minneapolis, Kinney-Anderson came home on weekends. The rest of the time she and David took turns with the kids.

“I had them for a week down there and he had them up here for a week,” she said.

Complicated? Not really. Family is just as important to her as being a fine chocolatier. That’s why her mother, JoAnn, is part of the biz too. She can be seen practically every day at the cash register or in back working in the kitchen. The Kinney-Anderson kids help out too.

“They’re actually really happy to not hear their father and I ask them any longer, ‘could you please go throw this in the dumpster?’ Now they get to be in here and have some fun,” Kinney-Anderson said.

Though too young to handle the food, Hakon voluntarily pushed a broom last week and also asked customers if they wanted a receipt with their purchases.

The combo of baking and running a family business goes back a long ways for Kinney-Anderson.

“My great uncle baked cakes for years, and my aunt made wedding cakes. It’s in the blood. I feel good about that,” she said.

She also feels good about the enormous part her husband played in the remodeling of this historic, 100-year old building, which has housed a tailor shop, a quilt store, a lawyer’s office, a radio repair shop, antique store, and a dentist office. The most recent tenant was called Spark and sold nutritional drinks.

David had a lot of help from local businesses, including Lake Effects Builders, Ed’s Mechanics (plumbing), John Cook (floors), Alltemp Heating & Cooling (in-floor heating), and Mitch Motiff (plastering).

The process began with tearing out the walls, followed by digging down to the clay.

“We thought there could be an issue with plumbing or something else, but we lucked out. We just put down rock and cleaned it up,” Kinney-Anderson said.

Somewhere between the dirt and the rubble they found a package of needles from the old quilt shop.

To give the place an antique flavor, the couple bought an old cabinet at an estate sale, which David cut down to fit the shop. Also, they purchased a used granite countertop that Kevin Buzicky of Lake Superior Kitchen & Bath polished up for them. Adding a unique touch, they installed a textured tin panel on the ceiling, a design that echoes Baroque or Art Deco. Finally, Kinney-Anderson turned some old windows she found at Resource ReUse into picture frames.

A cloud-white exterior with sky-blue trim shouts modern, yet architecturally fits right into the rest of the block with several other centenarian structures. Disneyland or gingerbread house, whatever the style suggests, the place is irresistible.

“Everyone loves chocolate,” said Kinney-Anderson who worked as a pastry chef at Wild Rice from ‘09 –14.

Some have equated eating chocolate to love. A recent blog published by the Johns Hopkins Science of Learning Institute said, “There are an extensive number of compounds in chocolate – about 380 – a number of which can have profound effects on our brain chemistry and contribute to these same feelings and sensations that accompany courtship and love.”

Some of these include tryptophan and serotonin, which manifest feelings of relaxation and well-being; caffeine, a psychoactive substance that provides temporary alertness; theobromine, a stimulant and vasodilator that increases blood flow; phenylethylamine, a brain stimulant releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and motivation; anandamide, another neurotransmitter that activates pleasure receptors in the brain; and last but not least, flavonols (also found in red wine, blueberries and green tea) known to “boost blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours after being metabolized, creating effects similar to those of a mild analgesic (painkiller) like aspirin.”

No wonder the ancient Aztecs, responsible for the discovery of cocoa, held this substance in such high esteem. Not only is it delicious, it also provides numerous health benefits, in moderation, of course.

“The quality of chocolate, which is actually a fruit, depends on when it was processed at the plant, also how they grind it,” said Kinney-Anderson, who added if stabilizers are used it ruins the flavor.

She sells her white, milk or dark chocolate candies, nut clusters, nut bark, berry creams, and turtles by the piece rather than the pound — 75 cents of delicious, guilt-free pleasure. Of course, larger quantities are available as well. In addition she’s offering sweet and savory catering services for parties and special events.

Stop by to welcome this chocolatier/pastry chef and her family to downtown Washburn plus add a little bounce to your step.
— Hope McLeod Staff Writer, Ashland Daily Press
MediaKate Bortell