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Published:June 15th, 2008 17:22 EST
The Sweetest Job

The Sweetest Job

By Mary-Elizabeth Hittel

Employees at Farris and Fosters say their jobs give a new meaning to the phrase sticky fingers.

"No matter how much you wash", Cami Norman, 22, said, "you still feel like you`ve got chocolate on your hands. And I wash them about 30 times a day."

Lisa Lanega, 19, agreed nodding her head.

But despite the never-ending chocolate feel, the chocolatiers at Farris and Foster`s Chocolate Factory love their job, helping customers and creating sweet treats.

Sweet Spot

"I really do love my job," Lanega said. "What could be a better job than getting to make chocolate all day and eat as much as you want? And even though I eat probably more than I should, I never get sick of it."

Norman added that she likes the creative atmosphere at the chocolate factory.

"As a school debate coach for Lake Highland Prep, Farris and Foster`s gives me a fun place to work and as a plus, everyone here is my age", Norman said. "And my favorite part of this job is getting to dip all of my fruit for lunch in chocolate."

Manager, Elissa Taylor, 29, worked at Farris and Foster`s for two years.

"It is a great place to work", Taylor said. "I said to a coworker the other day, while I had half of my arm covered in chocolate, that we get to live out someone`s fantasy. What could be better than that?"

Local legend

Started six years ago on Corrine Drive, in Winter Park, Fla., Farris and Foster`s is a local legend. The founders, Farris Riggsbee and Foster Lanega, wanted to create a family business, with Farris producing the chocolate and Foster managing the books.

Now run by the Lanega family, the business has boomed and people from all over the Central Florida area come to buy homemade chocolate.

The factory produces a multitude of fillings: marshmallow, raspberry, cappuccino, the list goes on.
List of truffles and other chocolates

All about the chocolate

Farris and Foster`s produces about 200 products, anything from chocolate truffles to chocolate covered potato chips. The store also hosts chocolate parties almost every night and produces gift baskets.

"The gift baskets are really popular around Christmas time", Taylor said. "We always get so many orders. Things get pretty crazy.

Our busiest nights for parties are Monday, which is family night and Saturday, Lanega said. On Saturdays we have a party every two hours. Usually they are no more then 15 people but the largest party we have ever had was 45. That one was crazy."

A recent party of local retired and still working teachers proved how much fun the chocolate parties are.

"Actually, this party was Pat`s idea", said Donna Ogletree, a retired Meadow Woods Middle teacher, while filling a mold with milk chocolate.

"Well, it was simple", Pat Morden said. "I came to Farris and Foster`s with my Sunday school class. We (the other teachers and I) wanted to have a get-together and needed something to do. And then, I thought Farris and Foster`s would be perfect. From there setting everything up was a breeze."

"Of the nine women at the party, eight of them had never been to Farris and Foster`s before. I`m so excited", Kristen Richards said. "I can`t wait, and all of the chocolate I bring home will definitely make my husband happy."

The phrase `I`m so excited`, seemed to echo throughout the rest of the room as the women filled molds with chocolate and other fillings, used the enrobing machine (a machine that covers something completely in chocolate), and popped chocolate covered fruits and other sweets in their mouths.

Nothing but perks

"There really aren`t any bad parts to this job", Lanega said. "Sometimes it gets a little difficult working with my parents because it`s hard to draw the line between daughter and employee. But other than that I wouldn`t trade this for anything."

"And this seems to be the general consensus among all 15 employees", Lanega added. "Other than the chocolate hands, I can`t think of anything wrong",  Norman said.

"This is by far the best job I have ever had", Taylor said. "The only downside I can see is now I`m pickier about the chocolate I eat. My friends call me a `chocolate snob`. But I can`t complain." 

A bit of background

"Now located in Baldwin Park, Farris and Foster`s wanted to be part of the something bigger. Baldwin Park was an up-and-coming development community that we wanted to be part of",  Lanega, said. "We wanted to still be a destination spot like we where on Corrine but we were also hoping for more walk-by traffic. That`s why we moved to Baldwin. And so far it`s been doing the trick."

But Baldwin Park is not a new phenomenon. All over Central Florida, similar neighborhoods are popping up.

Located on a former naval training center, it was bought by the Orlando NTC Partners,a developing firm, in 1999 and construction began as early as 2002. Baldwin Park is now an upscale mix of million dollar homes, townhouses and condos. Attracted to the community were families, young professionals and over 100 businesses, making this Orlando area a definite hotspot.