Did you know South County, Rhode Island is home to a Swiss Chocolatier who makes fine chocolates and candies, right in Westerly? Well, now you do. Meet Ruedi Hauser, Sr. owner and proprietor of Hauser Chocolatier in Westerly, RI. The chocolate factory and retail shop are located at 59 Thomas Hardy Road and it's a great place to take the kids for a treat and a lesson in chocolate making. You can learn about the chocolate making process right on the premises from an educational display as well as watch the chocolate making in action inside the factory through big glass windows.
We spoke with Ruedi Hauser, Sr. and learned a lot about his family business which is now mostly operated by his son, Ruedi Hauser, Jr. and his grandson, Ravi.
What does it mean to be a Swiss Chocolatier?
It means you learned the trade as an apprentice for three years, took a government issued test and became a certified journeyman in that trade - not just working for someone and learning a trade unofficially. In Switzerland, when you graduate high school, you can choose to go on to more schooling or become an apprentice and learn a trade. I chose to learn a trade, so at 15, when I graduated high school, I went to work as an apprentice pastry chef and chocolatier. After three years, I passed the government issued test and became a certified journeyman.
What made you choose chocolate?
As a child, I always loved to bake. So I chose to be a pastry chef, and a chocolatier is part of being a pastry chef.
Does your chocolate come from Switzerland?
No. Our chocolate is made in America, in Pennsylvania to be exact, but it is made to our specifications. We purchase from one supplier and that ensures our quality remains supreme and consistent.
What brought you to America?
I always loved to travel and I always wanted to come to America. I didn't know I would stay. I got a job as a pastry chef on the Holland America line and traveled the world. I first came to New York, then I worked as a pastry chef in New Orleans at the Royal Orleans in the French Quarter, then I moved to Florida and worked as a pastry chef in various hotels and then moved to New Jersey where I met my wife. Eventually we settled in CT and opened a pastry shop in Bethel. When it came time to open up a factory, we decided on Westerly, Rhode Island as RI made it more appealing. We opened Hauser Chocolatier in 1990.
Tell us a little about the process of making chocolate.
Well, first you buy the beans from Africa, South Africa, or Mexico. Then you clean them, roast them and press them and grind them adding sugar and milk. The fine grinding process is called coaching and the more you conch chocolate, the smoother and finer it becomes. And of course, time is money, so the longer you conch, the more expensive the chocolate.
At Hauser, we buy high quality chocolate that's made in America.
Is Easter your busiest season?
One of them, yes, usually. We are busy at Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. Right now the store is full of Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, malted eggs, and an assortment of Easter candies. You can phone in your order and we'll package it up and have it ready for you to pick up with minimal contact.
What do you want visitors and locals of South County to know about Hauser Chocolates?
That we do make candies in the Swiss style – with local ingredients. Our chocolate is made in PA on Swiss machinery so while it's American made chocolate it is equal in quality to the Swiss chocolate.
What is your favorite chocolate?
A good dark chocolate with not a lot of sugar. And we make it and sell it at the store.
Hauser Chocolatier has everything you need to put together a delicious Easter basket! And if you're visiting South County, they have souvenir chocolate bars that make great gifts as well as an assortment of delectable truffles.
59 Thomas Hardy Rd.
Westerly, RI 02891