Confiserie Teuscher



Ever get a hankering for some chocolates truffles? While surfing the Internet I went to search engine Google and typed in the word "chocolate". Jeez, chocolate is BIG business. I started reading postings from chocolate fanatics as to their favorite chocolate truffle and kept coming across the name Teuscher. Went to Teuscher's website (teuscher.com) and found their chocolates are sold in about 35 places around the world including Beverly Hills, Toronto, Tokyo, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Boston, Dubai and Santa Fe. From its kitchens in Zurich, the confections are prepared each week and then flown to its stores around the world. Hmm, I better check out this chocolatier.

Though Teuscher has a store on Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's famous and expensive shopping street, its headquarters lies a half-dozen blocks away at its flagship store in the old part of Zurich's city center. Narrow and winding cobblestone streets take you around half-timbered buildings hundreds of years old. Small retail shops catering mostly to tourists occupy the storefronts of many of these buildings.

Usually when one thinks of a flagship store, visions of large and grand come to mind. Well that's not the case here as the store is neither big nor grand. Granted its overflowing with all kinds of chocolate but you probably couldn't fit more than ten people into the place at one time. However, this seven-story structure does go back a few years; it was built in 1647.

I mailed my letter of introduction a month earlier to this address but simply addressed it to "Chief Executive Officer" since I was able to find very little background information on Teuscher let alone the name of the head honcho. It's about 4 PM when I walk into the store and it's manned by two older women. One speaks English and I explain what I do. She recalls the letter but says the man I should talk to is busy and I should come back another time. I tell her I've heard a lot about their truffles but have never tried them. I'm given a couple samples. Holy Moly, they're fantastic!

I return the next day and it's the same story, the man I should meet with is alone upstairs and hasn't time. So, I come back several days later and this time I'm in luck as Rafael Rubio finds time to meet with me.

Rafael Rubio is probably in his early 30's and is the company's CFO. His grandfather was Dolf Teuscher, who founded the company 72 years ago. Rubio's uncle, Dolf Teuscher, is the company's current CEO. Confused? Rubio's uncle and grandfather both have the same name, Dolf Teuscher.

We head up to the second floor for the corporate offices. Well, there are a grand total of four people at the head office and it looks and feels more like someone working out of their home. Matter of fact, Rubio's grandmother (wife of founder Dolf Teuscher) is 92 years olds and lives in an apartment above this office.

Where are all the delectable confections made? At a factory in a Zurich suburb. All total there're 150 employees. Teuscher has had its headquarters here since 1972. There's zero parking and smoking isn't allowed. Try as I may I'm unable to get Rubio to divulge annual revenues at this family-owned concern.

Corporate offices pretty much consists of CEO Teuscher's second floor office and an adjacent room, which are actually a converted living room and dining area. There's one real plant and no computer.

I ask Rubio how they pick out where to open a store and he says they receive at least a half dozen request from around the world every week from people wanting to sell their goodies. Here's a trivia question: on Rubio's business card there're nine cities listed where you can buy Teuscher chocolates. Can you spot the one that seems definitely out of place? New York, Houston, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Guam, Singapore, Tokyo and Geneva.

I learn the secret to Teuscher's chocolates is in fact, a secret. Just like the Coca-Cola formula, only a select few know the secret recipes. Matter of fact, founder Dolf Teuscher invented the champagne truffle.

It's a fun visit with Rubio and he doesn't let me leave without several boxes of truffles. Man, they are fantastic