Customer Spotlight: Dave Korkowski

Chocolopolis, Community, Happy Hour / Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Today we’re featuring Korkowski #2, but only #2 in the order we’ve featured him and not in the order of importance! Dave Korkowski is the other half of the chocolate-loving Korkowski duo that includes his wife Marjorie who I recently profiled. The two of them met in first grade at the St. Anne’s School on Queen Anne, and while chocolate was not what brought them together it is an interest they have in common. Their passions diverge at chocolate, however.  Where Marjorie loves vinegar and overseas travel, Dave is partial to Scotch and woodworking projects.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that Dave is an English teacher by training. While I once heard him quote Dante, his usual topics of discussion are woodworking projects, chocolate, roses and cakes. He approaches each of his passions with an incredibly analytical mind, experimenting with different techniques until he gets the results he wants. He’s an all-around handy guy and a perfectionist in everything he does – he would have made a great engineer. The roses he grows are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and his cakes are quite tasty. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting his favorite creation, an Apricot Chocolate cake, that he makes for special occasions. While he enjoys these pastimes, it’s the woodworking projects where he really excels.

Dave has been there for me and for Chocolopolis on so many occasions I’ve lost count. As a small business owner with a very small budget, Dave has been a godsend when it comes to handyman and woodworking projects. When our Selmi Tempering & Enrobing machine arrived from Italy and we couldn’t figure out how to get it off the pallet, Dave was there for us. The machine cost us a lot of money and the risk of damaging it was high. He figured out a solution that involved re-purposing some of the wood from the pallets as (very small) ramps to wheel it off of the pallet and onto the sidewalk. It was truly a MacGyver moment, and one that averted a potentially expensive disaster.

Dave Korkowski helping unload the Selmi
Dave helping unload the Selmi

While there are many other times Dave has shown up with his van and tools to help us out, my favorite moment happened shortly after we’d moved into our new location. I was working with a tight budget to put shelves into our new store so I decided to do the “build out” myself. I went to Home Depot and found elegant but minimal shelf brackets that could hold a lot of weight, and I selected very nice wood planks to insert into the brackets as shelves. Dave had done so much for us during the move that I was feeling guilty. I didn’t want to bother him so I decided to sand the shelves myself by hand. I’ve never sanded anything of significance, and these shelves were long and involved. I laid them out on a tarp in my backyard, hand sanded them, and then put on a finish that the guy at Home Depot recommended. I was so proud of myself for completing what for me was a herculean task. The challenge was that I was only half finished.

My car had not been able to fit more than 3 boards at a time, and I wanted to make sure the shelves worked before I purchased more of this expensive wood. We installed the first three shelves in the store, and they looked good. Success! Or so I thought. I was ready to purchase the remaining three shelves and repeat the process.

I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to it. I’d spent so much time on the first three shelves, and I had a new store to open. Dave and Marjorie stopped by, and Dave ran his hands over my shelves. He said, “You sanded these by hand.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. When I ran my hands over the shelves they were rough and uneven, but you couldn’t tell visually so I was fine with them for merchandising chocolate. Dave said, “When you get the new shelves maybe the boards could spend the night at our house,” implying that he could work on the next three shelves for me. He had a circular saw and a sanding machine, and he wanted to spend time with my shelves. I felt guilty about encouraging this since he’d already done so much for us, so I thanked him and said we’d be okay.

He and Marjorie and I repaired to the courtyard in front of the store to taste chocolate. About midway through our tasting as Marjorie and I were discussing the chocolate, Dave interrupted our discussion by saying, “Now back to the shelves.” It was at this moment that I realized this was a man in search of a woodworking project. Dave implored me to let those shelves spend the night at his house, and at this point I very happily agreed. Not only did my shelves visit Dave’s house, but Dave came with me to the lumber yard he’d recommended and helped me choose the wood. He put it into his car and took the shelves directly to his house. After a few days at the “wood spa” as I think I will now call Dave’s garage, he arrived at the store with three beautifully finished shelves without a hint of roughness on them. While they look the same as the three I finished, you can tell the difference if you run your hands along the shelves.

Dave and Marjorie have become great friends of mine and my husband, Mark’s. Dave is the chef in the family, and he particularly enjoys cooking cassoulet and sharing it over glasses of wine. Those roses I mentioned? He tends some stunning rose bushes in their yard and has gifted me a bud or two. He’s promised to bring some to happy hour this week, so you can share in their beauty as well.

Dave Korkowski Rose
A rose from Dave Korkowski’s garden.

Here’s more about Dave in his own words.

What’s your favorite bar of chocolate right now?

I imagine many people say, “The one I’m eating right now.” That happens to be SOMA’s Bejofo Madagascar, and I think it’s very good.

Do you have a favorite bar of all time?

This question invites a wistful, “Gee I wish I could get . . . .” response. Rogue Madagascar, anyone?

How did you discover Chocolopolis?

Through Marjorie, so indirectly her answer has to count for us both. I think my first Chocolopolis experience was a six-piece tasting at a small table in the window of the Queen Anne store.

What do you do when you’re not tasting chocolate?

Almost all human activities can be pursued while eating chocolate. Some of my favorites are cooking (often with chocolate, of course) and doing computer work while tasting chocolate. I don’t consume chocolate while repairing/maintaining cars (too smelly), nor while doing woodworking (too sawdusty), nor while doing yard work (too sweaty). I read, enjoy puzzles and games, watch recorded sports events (sans commercials and talking heads). I still teach a little (substituting) and I produce the Hi-Q interscholastic quiz program for Snohomish & Skagit County high schools.

Happy Hour samples chosen by Dave:

Original Beans Piura Porcelana 75%
Soma Madagascar 70%
Fresco Polochic Valley Guatemala 70%, Light Roast, Medium Roast & Dark Roast comparison