Joshua Needleman and the Story of Chocolate Springs
Joshua Needleman, creator and chocolatier of Chocolate Springs Cafe, has been fascinated with chocolate all of his life. Joshua is a native of Lebanon Springs, New York: a town that was named for its year-round natural hot water spring that was believed to have therapeutic healing powers by the Native Americans. Ulysses S. Grant and Marquis Lafayette are among the many notable historical figures that made pilgrimages to the Lebanon Springs. The name Chocolate Springs Café pays homage to Joshua's hometown and provides its own modern-day therapeutic escape..
Joshua first entered the culinary field at age sixteen, and established his foundation in discipline and hard work, while working at Shuji's Japanese restaurant, a New Lebanon historic landmark. While working at Shuji's during his high school years, Joshua developed a deep love and appreciation for Japanese culture that inspired an Asian theme for Chocolate Springs Café.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1994 with an externship at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, Joshua began to refine his skills at the Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts. Joshua then relocated to France to explore another culture and learn directly from the French culinary traditions. He was inspired by the artistic beauty and admired the spectacular pastry and chocolate shops. Joshua had the opportunity to work at several prestigious establishments, including a stage with Maitre Chocolatier Michel Chaudun.
Joshua returned to the United States to work again at the Wheatleigh Hotel as well as at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires and finally as pastry chef at the Cranwell Resort and Spa. He then serendipitously had the great fortune to be offered a job at La Maison du Chocolat in New York City. Joshua moved to New York to work at both their Madison Avenue and Rockefeller Center boutiques. Once again an appreciation for cultural diversity and art were fueled. Joshua was honored to work with founder and Maitre Chocolatier Robert Linxe who shared his passion for chocolate. During his employment Joshua was invited on three trips back to Paris to visit the facilities of La Maison du Chocolat. Once again, the rigors and precision involved in this art-form were reinforced. Ultimately, Joshua traveled to Japan to experience for himself the culture that he had admired for so many years.
With the desire to fuse European tradition, Japanese aesthetics, and his own local roots, Joshua returned home to the Berkshires to open Chocolate Springs Café in September of 2003.
Since opening, Chocolate Springs Café has become a special destination for locals and tourists alike. The serious hot chocolate and velvety mousse cakes have become local favorites. The Champagne Cognac Truffles were featured in the August 2005 edition of Time Magazine. Other articles have appeared in Sante Magazine, Berkshire Living, Travel and Leisure Magazine, The New York Times and the Berkshire Eagle. Chocolate Springs was recognized in the March 2006 issue of SAVEUR magazine as one of their TOP 10 star chocolate makers in the United States. In September of 2004, Chocolate Springs started offering its selections in Boston at the South End restaurant, Formaggio. Among the delectables were all-dark Cocoa Truffles, an assortment of bon-bons with fresh infusions of mint and raspberry, as well as Chai This