Ashland’s newest sugar-daddy

May 2, 2007
By Mark A. Curci
Tidings Correspondent


Matthew Gemmel | For the Tidings

“I want to be the New Age Willy Wonka, for whatever that’s worth,” said B. Sterling, the inked and pierced owner of the Silly Rabbit Chocolate Factory.

The Silly Rabbit Chocolate Company held its grand opening three weeks ago on Ashland Street, and it was hard to miss the bubble-waving kids in bunny suits outside.

“We have women coming in, giving us hugs, telling us how we changed their day,” said employee Tanya Duchsherer.

“The name Silly Rabbit came to me when I was a little kid,” said Sterling, while taking in some sun in his custom made Sugar Pimp T-shirt. “I stole my dad’s candy and he called me a silly rabbit.”

Through his ventures, and his quirky and intense dedication, Sterling is determined to offer Ashlanders something different. Sterling trained and cooked in France and New York and can name drop some top-shelf clients he’s worked with through the years. He picked Ashland to launch his business for a reason.

“If you’re going to do something, do it right on a small scale,” said Sterling, although he still fields orders from restaurants he used to work with in New York and other major cities. “Food really makes me happy. I want to give people what they don’t know that they want yet. I’ve been in chocolates and stuff for 23 years. I know what people like; what their tastes are.

“Everyday is an inspiration to me,” said Sterling. “People come in with all kinds of stuff, strawberries and other fruits”¦ wanting me to try cooking with it. I try it!”

Sterling also likes to use local products, when he can, like coffee and honey from Jacksonville, and produce from local vendors. But he insists on using chocolate from France, Belgium and Switzerland.

“I try and keep the cost down to share my product with people,” said Sterling. “But I won’t compromise the integrity of my chocolate by using only organic ingredients. I love using local ingredients, and with beautiful imports we make a beautiful product. Plus, French chocolate is French Chocolate.”

Sterling’s passionate view of chocolate is evident in the store itself — a nine-foot bunny is on order to place in front of his store — in his marketing plan “”employees strut about in rabbit costumes to enhance the fun atmosphere “”and in his own views of his job.

“The whole idea of being a brat and being a Chocolateer is really sexy,” said Sterling. “Chocolate is sex. It leads up to it, comes after it; it’s sweet, sour, slippery”¦”

Despite the lighter-side approach, Sterling’s serious about his trade.

“Chocolate is a very difficult thing to do. It requires a scientist’s brain and technique. There are so few good Chocolateers and so many rotten cooks,” said Sterling. “Cooking is a lifestyle, not just a job. It’s something that wakes you up, not something that you wake up to.”

In addition to a wide range of cute, cuddly novelty items, stuffed bunnies, exquisitely crafted varieties of chocolate delicacies, fresh baked breads and what one might expect at a chocolate joint, B. Sterling offers a little sass. The Silly Rabbit has a decent assortment of more carnal coco concoctions; chocolate thongs, gummy pasties and edible girlfriends.

“The other day, an 85-year-old woman came in and bought a chocolate thong and pasties and a gummy thong for her male friend,” said Duchsherer from under her fuzzy rabbit ears. “We’re busy bunnies.”

Another unique attribute at the Silly Rabbit is Sterling’s secret weapon; Xocoati. “It’s the food of the Gods,” said Sterling, of the zesty concoction that was originated by the Incans. “They used to drink it before sacrificing virgins. It’s what Columbus brought back! A cup of this every day will change your whole mood.”

What that, a more than slightly renegade attitude and big, innovative dreams, B. Sterling wants to create a buzz about his Silly Rabbit Chocolate Company.

“I just invite everyone to come in”¦ you can like it or hate it, but I either way I hope it brings out passion. I just want everyone here to come and have fun,” said Sterling. “My chocolate speaks for itself.”

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