At age the of 19, Carmen Portillo left her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, and moved to London, England. While abroad, Carmen tried her first handmade, gourmet chocolate truffle. Often she would frequent a tiny chocolate shop in Wimbledon and admire the craftsmanship of chocolatiers.
“It was always such a treat for me to pick out the most beautiful truffles.”
While in Europe, she traveled to Paris, France, and caught the chocolate fever! When she returned home to Little Rock over a year later, she longed for that experience again, so she researched ways to learn the trade and techniques for making delicious, artisan truffles.
Carmen has gathered techniques from world-renowned chefs and studied at the Notter School for Confectionary and Chocolate Arts in Orlando, Florida. This, combined with a certificate from Ecole Chocolat Professional Chocolate Arts, makes Carmen the first Certified Professional Chocolatier in the State of Arkansas.
At an early age, Priscilla Williams helped her grandmother make desserts in the kitchen. Priscilla’s love for sweets evolved as she watched Dessert Circus with Jaques Torres, and Julia Childs on PBS. Priscilla would experiment with different ingredients and flavors to create desserts for the holidays.
In 2005, she earned her associate's degree in Business Management at Southeast Arkansas College; and graduated among the National Honors Society. In 2007, she pursued a degree in Baking & Pastry, and Hospitality Management at the Pulaski Tech Arkansas Culinary School.
Later Priscilla interned with Arkansas's first Chocolatier, Carmen Portillo, at Cocoa Belle Chocolates. In 2009, Priscilla attended The Art Institute International Culinary School in Dallas, Texas. In 2018 Priscilla, became Arkansas's second Certified Professional Chocolatier.
Priscilla is currently the Production Assistant at Cocoa Belle Chocolates where she loves developing new products and truffle flavors.
Cocoa Belle Chocolates specializes in handmade artisan chocolate truffles, chocolate gifts, barks, and cocoa mixes. Cocoa Belle Chocolates' client list for custom work ranges from Fortune 500 companies to government officials.
Cocoa Belle’s store is nestled in the heart of downtown Little Rock; also available through specialty retailers throughout the region, and online.
In April 2019, Carmen was semi-finalist competitor on “Bake You Rich,” which aired on the Food Network hosted by Buddy “Cake Boss” Valestro. Other features include 2019 AY “Best Arkansas Handmade Product” and 2017 Vogue Magazine’s “Culinary Collection”.
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