We love a woman who can bring home the bacon — especially when it's mixed into a delicious, chocolaty candy bar. Who is this female version of Willy Wonka, you ask? Meet Katrina Markoff, the creative genius behind Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Even if you don't know her, chances are you've already tasted her amazing candy creations — all of which are made with love right here in Chicago but sell nationwide like gangbusters. While the chocolatier started her sweet empire out of her Chi-town apartment, she's since graduated to a jaw-dropping home in Barrington Hills. And much to our delight, we got the grand tour of her to-die-for digs — to share with you, of course.
Along with showing us the most coveted pieces in her house (and closet!), Markoff also dishes on what it's like to be a second-time mom. And, of course, she answered our most burning question: Which of her own creations really rocks her world? Ahead, a gal who has it all (and by that we mean brains, beauty, chic decor, and chocolate galore). Best. Eye candy. Ever.
Photographed by Heather Talbert
Did you always know you wanted to be a chocolatier?
“No — I didn’t even like chocolate when I was growing up! But then, I had an amazing chocolate experience in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu where I studied — even though I only had two days of chocolate making. It was in Paris that I realized chocolate of this form did not exist in the states. So, that’s what inspired me to start Vosges — to share that quality and specialness and to tell a story through chocolate.”
Katrina is wearing a Mike & Chris jacket, Diane von Furstenberg dress, and a vintage necklace.
What's your favorite place in your home and why?
"I love chilling out on my sofa with an Alpaca throw surrounded by all of my cookbooks. It's just a great, relaxing place to sit and read."
So, tell us more about your philosophy of telling stories with chocolate.
"My recipe development is always ongoing. I'm constantly searching for new things to try and experiment with, whether it's an ingredient found at a market or by speaking with a chef — I just connect with people organically and I react to it. Also, I love traveling, so these ideas flow even more when I'm meeting people from all over the world. So, creating high-quality chocolate with these things in mind is a way of taking the consumer to another place — and telling a story."
Since you travel so frequently, what's your go-to plane ensemble?
"Ann Demeulemeester boots, a cotton tank, a lacey flowy skirt, Helmut Lang motorcycle jacket, and a colorful Arabic-type printed scarf with fringe."
Since you seem to have an affinity for France based on your experience at Le Cordon Bleu, are there any Parisian influences in your home?
"Yes! I have tons of cooking equipment that I bought at E. Dehillerin in les Halles at 18-20 Rue Coquillière; a Baccarat chandelier at the flagship Baccarat store at 11 Place des États-Unis; books from the stalls on the Sienne; and an inlaid wood end table found at the Parisian flea market. I am also an obsessed avid collector of European hotel and restaurant ashtrays and bottle openers."
What kind of music can be heard playing throughout your house?
"Erykah Badu, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse — and classic French music to take me back to my days in Paris."
The crystal rocks are from Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop in Evanston.
Congratulations on being a second-time mom! How has the energy in your house shifted — or has it? How has your life changed?
"It's really hard trying to prioritize on a daily basis and be present for everyone in my life (my husband, children, dog, and myself) while running a business at the same time. So, it's really about delegating tasks and hiring the best people — but it isn't easy!"
Was it the economy that inspired you to launch your new (and more affordable) Wild Ophelia brand of chocolate?
"No, actually it wasn't. What happened was, as we really started to grow, we were approached by retailers to sell in their stores. The demand was great, but we really wanted to keep up with the integrity of the brand — to keep it special."
"So, it was the demand that prompted Wild Ophelia: "An American Roadtrip Through Chocolate." I love to create new brands, so this was a really exciting project for me. It was a perfect time to launch it because people are becoming more conscious about where their food is coming from. It's all-natural, and often, organic ingredients are all sourced from small farms and artisans to tell an American story."
Katrina is wearing an Artisan De Luxe jacket, Like Mynded dress, and a necklace she purchased at the Field Museum.
What are your favorite decor shops?
"Jayson Home and Garden
and Architectural Artifacts
. I actually source furnishings from those stores for my chocolate boutiques as well."
Katrina says she loves the luxurious Legna sheets on her bed, which are completely green and organic and made from tree fibers.
What are three of your favorite things in your home?
"I would say these fabulous pencil drawings I have from my friend Vanessa Carlton, who I went to culinary school with in Paris; a Baccarat Candelabra (pictured); and an old painting of my grandmother."
The mantel also showcases a painting Katrina brought back from her travels in Cuba.
What are three things from your wardrobe that you wear most often?
"An Artisan De Luxe jean jacket with a Navajo print on the back,
Ann Demeulemeester boots, and a few jewelry staples: gold cuffs from the street vendors in New York, conch shell bangles from the Nagaland tribe, and silver cuffs from Thailand."
Ann Demeulemeester boots, Bottega Veneta heels, Yves Saint Laurent heels, Marni heels.
When it comes to staying gorgeous in the midst of your hectic lifestyle, where do you get your hair done and what are your go-to beauty products?
"I get my hair done by Charles Lord at Taylor Reese Salon — he's worked on numerous celebrities and takes care of the models at Ford. As for products, I love Shiseido's Tinted Moisturizer and Refining Makeup Primer, Yves Saint Laurent's Shocking Mascara, MAC Lip Liner in Subculture, and this amazing lip balm from Medicine of the People."
So, you're an accomplished rider! How often do you get to take out one of your horses?
"Oh, it's been a while since I was pregnant. But when I'm involved, I love to compete and work on my jumps."
The white horse was a toy Katrina had when she was growing up and was used in one of her catalogs years ago.
What's the best part about motherhood?
"It really reinforces the fact that you need to be present — having kids makes you present really fast!"
So, which one of your own creations really rocks your world?
"That's really hard to say — it really depends on my mood. I do really love the Rooster truffle: Taleggio cheese, organic walnuts, Tahitian vanilla bean, and bittersweet dark chocolate. It's definitely my go-to when I'm craving something salty and sweet.
Anything on the Vosges horizon that we can look forward to?
"I'm working on something with essences of pine for the holidays. I discovered an amazing pine syrup in Italy. It's like I said...the ideas just flow when I travel and meet people."