The five days leading up to Valentine’s Day at Xocolatti, the New York City chocolate shop founded by Shaineal Shah ’09, are “out of control,” says the artist and chocolatier.
“Chocolate reimagined” is the store’s motto, says Shah, who makes each tasty morsel a piece of art. “Chocolate is a combination of everything I love doing,” he says. Grow-ing up, he enjoyed cooking, painting, sculpting—anything that involved creative arts. “My chocolates are visually colorful and textural. They’re also a combination of things I’ve experienced, including flavors from my Indian culture and different cuisines I’ve tried.”
Much of Shah’s inspiration for Xocolatti came from his mother, a talented baker who helped him start the business. Shah says his whole family is full of foodies. “When I make a flavor, everyone is criticizing it,” he says, “but that helps us perfect the flavor.”
For Valentine’s Day, Shah pulls together a special collection of truffles, which includes such flavors as passion fruit (his personal favorite), rose cardamom, and champagne brut. “They’re luxurious and rich,” he says.
Shah, who always wanted to “do his own thing,” credits his education for helping him start Xocolatti. “Babson gives you a foundation on how to start and run a company,” he says, “and then everything is a learning process. You make mistakes, and you learn from them. But once you know how to start a company, you can pursue whatever passion you want.”—Donna Coco