Chuck (Charles) Siegel has been part of the chocolate scene in San Francisco, CA since 1987. In 1995, he sold his first chocolate company, Attivo, and then worked as a business consultant. In 2004, he founded Charles Chocolates, and has received much recognition, including a Best Chocolatier in the Bay Area nod from San Francisco Magazine.
What part of Greater Flint are you from originally? Do you still visit the area?
When I was a child, my family lived on Eldorado Drive off Flushing Road. We moved to Flint Township after my first year at Northern, and I graduated from Carman High School. At the very least, I am now coming back to Flint every year for the Flint Local 432 fundraiser!
Where did you go to college and what degree(s) did you earn?
I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology; but for photography, not engineering.
What aspects of your career are the most exciting?
By far, the most exciting thing for me is seeing our customers’ reactions to our chocolates. There is a visceral pleasure that comes from feeding people good chocolate.
What career achievement are you most proud of?
I’ve built a successful manufacturing business that supports itself and our employees in San Francisco, which is a city that just recently re-dedicated itself to encouraging the making of tangible products.
On what career goal are you most focused right now?
As we grow dynamically, I want to maintain the integrity of our products. One often sees compromises being made by manufacturers as they grow. The desire and need to control costs often leads to decisions that negatively impact quality – these decisions ultimately lead to customers seeking a better-made alternative. My goal is to never lose a customer because our product doesn’t measure up.
Are there any special people who influenced you?
While it’s the obvious answer, it’s also the best one. My parents have influenced me in many ways – some expected, some not. I find myself trying to emulate them when making business decisions, when parenting, and in my daily interactions with people.
What do you hope for the future of your professional field?
As a chocolate classicist, my future – growth notwithstanding – looks a lot like my present. I am not one who embraces trends or food fashions, but one who loves and respects simple products made with exceptional ingredients and skill.
How did growing up in Flint shape who you are today?
To me, Flint was about community. It taught me the importance of family and of friends, and the value of having people in your life that you can count on – and who can count on you. One of the really amazing aspects of growing up in Flint is that no matter how much time passes, or where everyone has moved, the bond of being from Flint continues to bind everyone together.
What do you hope for the future of Flint?
Flint is working hard to come back from both the recent/current water crisis and the long-term economic difficulties that have impacted almost every aspect of daily life. I hope that the community’s spirit and resilience, combined with the commitment of local businesses, can bring Flint back to a vibrant and prosperous state.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Anything outdoors, especially with my wife and daughters. We also love to travel and find new and exciting things to eat.
Photography by Eric Dutro