Major: Culinary Arts
Job Title: Owner & Chocolatier, Oliver Kita Fine Confections & Oliver Kita Fine Catering
Location: Rhinebeck, NY
Walk into Oliver Kita Fine Confections in Rhinebeck, NY and the rich cinnabar-colored walls and deep browns of the elegant display furnishings immediately set a tone. You get the impression of quiet luxury and a European sensibility. But step further into the space and you see a huge serviceable marble-topped worktable, a chocolate tempering maching, and shelves of molds just waiting to be filled. At the helm of all of this is Oliver Kita ’89, a man who loves the process of creating chocolate confections, recognizes the importance of presentations, and immediately conveys his all-encompassing passion for his work.
A longtime resident of the Hudson Valley, Oliver owned Heaven Cafè in Woodstock for 13 years until he felt he had done all he wanted to in the restaurant business. He decided to turn his attention and his hand to chocolate. Determined to succeed, he studied at L’Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona in France, the Academy du Chocolat, Barry-Callebaut in Montreal, and was mentored by the famous French chocolatier, Michel Cluizel. An avid reader and gardener, Oliver says he often gets ideas for his chocolates as he pursues these interests. While watering a violet flower, he has been inspired to create a delicate violet chocolate that melts in the mouth and leaves a hint of violets in its wake. While reading a Pearl Buck novel, he has been moved to create chocolates with an Asian flavor palate. And he firmly believes in the health benefits of chocolate, leading him to coin his company’s trademarked tag line “Mind • Body • Chocolate Every Day™.”
Setting and reaching goals is, in fact, Oliver’s trademark approach to life. “Years ago I set a goal to change my career path and I’m doing it. It’s not always easy but I’m creating a business exactly the way I want,” he explains. Meticulous attention to detail when it comes to packaging and creative marketing is all part of why his shop is such a success. And his roots in the Hudson Valley have enabled him to forge interesting partnerships. His custom line of “Handmade in the Hudson Valley Estate Chocolates” are sold at the great estates along the Hudson River. They include such delights as Clermont Cappuccino (Clermont Estate), Vandermint (Vanderbilt Estate), Fala’s Peanut Butter Bon-Bon (FDR’s Home & Library), and Mills Pistachio Marzipan (Mills Mansion), to name a few.
In 1996, Oliver expanded his business and founded Oliver Kita Fine Catering. The catering kitchen is located inside the master kitchens of the historic Beekman Arms within steps of Oliver’s chocolate retail studio. Custom wedding cakes are also part of Oliver’s artistic pastry team along with European style pastries and delicious chocolate bakery products using all natural European exceptional quality ingredients showcased in the chocolate studio.