Master Chocolatier, Karen Neugebauer is a true Artisan who is at the forefront of the Seattle artisan chocolate scene. She has continually wowed customers with both traditional pieces and her cutting-edge confections. Her passion for the craft and cunningly balanced flavor profiles have led to being ranked among the world’s best chocolatiers. Chef Karen found her passion when she entered the Art Institute of Seattle’s Baking & Pastry program. She was immediately drawn to chocolate, especially the crisp, clean snap of a beautifully tempered bar, and the chocolate’s innate ability to enhance lives – both as a food and an art – appealed to her immensely. Soon after graduating, she started Forte Chocolates (2006) Believing in the philosophy that to celebrate chocolate is to celebrate life, Chef Karen chose to follow the artisan mindset rather than manufacturing large quantities. Her team of artisans craft every piece entirely by hand; including hand tempering, pouring, dipping, and packaging all of the chocolates. With meticulous dedication to quality, she brings to life the remarkably diverse variety of flavors found naturally within chocolate. She also creates stunning flavor combinations by blending chocolates with the finest ingredients available in the marketplace, including savory elements such as organic herbs, honeys, and spices. Chef Karen become the highest awarded chocolatier in the nation in 2013, winning numerous national and international awards each year, most notably a World Gold for her Sea Salt Caramel and an impressive 3 World Silvers from the International Chocolate Awards (2016) for her Cherry Almond Truffle, Lemon Pepper Bar, and Lemon Pepper Truffles. Just this year, Chef Karen has earned an impressive 8 awards from the international Chocolate Awards, Americas round. All of those products will go on to compete in the World Finals. Nationally, she has earned more than fifty Golds and Silvers, including Taste TV’s Masters Award (2012), and the Six-Star rating from the International Chocolate Salons (2013), their highest possible rating in the United States. Chef Karen’s chocolates are carried at her Mount Vernon showroom, the Forte retail stores in Mount Vernon and Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham, and throughout the Pacific Northwest.