When Jennifer Posey was 10 she got a job as scorekeeper for a Little League baseball team. The pay? $5 a game and a hotdog. She loved the hotdogs so much she spent the rest of her pay at the concession stand. It was her first step in becoming a “foodie.”
Jenny grew up in Santa Cruz, and went to San Jose State University for Undergrad and Grad work in Leisure Studies. After working in Public Administration, rising to a Parks and Recreation Director, she moved to Rochester and intended to stay in that line of work. Nothing panned out and as her savings dwindled, she thought about what Rochester was missing. Experience in Parks and Recreation gave her solid skills in business, leadership and innovation. She had also worked for Richard Donnelly, a famous chocolatier in California, and realized there wasn’t an artisan chocolatier or ice cream maker here.
Jenny started Hedonist Artisan Chocolate in a small shop off the alley by 674 South Ave. in 2007, with $300 and a credit card. From the beginning, what set Hedonist apart from something like a Hershey Bar, was premium-quality ingredients, blended in small-batches, with gorgeous designs.
Hedonist is a Fine Chocolatier in the French-American style that melds quality French Chocolate with American innovations. Unlike candies whose first ingredient is sugar, Hedonist’s first ingredient is chocolate. Local ingredients come from Pittsford Farms Dairy, Hurd Orchards, Coffee Connection, Leaf Tea Bar, Lively Run Dairy Farm, and area farmers markets. When local items aren’t available, they are gathered from the highest-quality sources: orange peels from Italy and pecans from Texas.
Hedonist Artisan Chocolates & Ice Cream reached its 10-Year milestone in 2017 having grown into a walk-up, online, corporate and wholesale business. At the time, she described the business as being in the “teen years” full of the joys and hardships of big learning curves. She worked hard to develop a strong plan by having other people (who would be honest and understand how plans work) look at it and tell her if she was lying to herself.
When the going gets tough, she’ll go swimming or for a long walk alone to think things out. She may review her business mission statement and vision. She rereads the “Seven Habits of Productive People.” She also surrounds herself with people who are strong where she is weak.
Jenny dreams up the recipes, while letterpress printer Madelyn Posey designs the tags and packaging. The ice cream shop offers classic flavors like Strawberry, a rich Chocolate Sorbet, and favorites like Baklava with filo dough and nuts. They serve eight flavors a day, including two dairy-free options.
Because she gets so excited about things made by hand using old-world techniques that give character, depth and soul, the ice cream shop makes their own waffle cones. She favors meats cut by hand, knit sweaters, upcycled bags, original painted artwork, craft beers and wines, small cheese makers, letterpress, and admires the people who keep such crafts alive.
Her flair for fun led her to organize the popular Thanksgiving Day Wedge Waddle which brings hundreds of people down to the shop and the neighborhood. It takes weeks to plan such a big event, and the list of sponsors for this fun event reflects the good will it fosters. Waddlers are encouraged to bring a pair of new socks to donate to St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality, or if waddling isn’t an option, dropping donations at Hedonist, Abundance or the Genesee Coop Federal Credit Union.
She once said, “When I grow up I want to be an old lady that always cooks Sunday dinner and everyone wants to come over for it.” Now that she goes home every day to a lively toddler, Thanksgiving Day and Sundays are even more fun.