Nira Milo from Sandycove, Innisfil used to own a popular chocolate shop in Toronto in 2004 called C’est Sweet Truffles but was forced to close suddenly after a family emergency.
Milo has had a passion for working with sweets, particularly chocolate and truffles, on and off for the past 30 years.
She attended George Brown College where she completed the Pastry Chef Culinary Course before travelling all the way to Paris, France for a chocolate conference and exhibit for chocolatiers, where she learned to perfect her craft.
“The chocolate produced in Europe is very sweet and milky. What we have here [in North America], in Europe they call “candy”; ours is made of vegetable oil and cocoa powder," explains Milo. “Real chocolate is made of three ingredients: cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar and milk – that’s what real chocolate is."
Milo continued her training at a chocolate factory in Montreal (now called the Chocolate Academy) where she worked with Callebaut chocolate; a rich Belgian chocolate brand that Milo regularly uses for her creations.
“I became very close with the chefs [and] spent a lot of time there," remembers Milo. “I love the medium [of chocolate]. I’m very textile and love to work with my hands."
In 2001, Milo opened her own chocolate shop in Toronto where she resided at the time. It quickly became a popular stop for people to meet and socialize while savouring Milo’s chocolate designs.
In 2004, Milo’s chocolate dream-come-true came to a crashing halt when her eight-year-old son was run over by a vehicle and suffered major brain damage.
Her son (Ethan) was in an induced coma for 15 days but never returned back to the world the same.
“If you damage your head, that’s it, it doesn’t get fixed after a certain age," shares Milo. “You can find ways to compensate, in a way, but it doesn’t get fixed."
Ethan’s memory was particularly affected by the accident, giving him only two percent short term memory and six percent processing ability. Milo was faced with some difficult decisions, and ultimately became Ethan’s full-time caregiver for over 10 years.
“I invented games and took him on trips," shares Milo. “I learned everything I could about brain injuries to try and help him”.
Milo and her son were told by doctors that he would never return to a normal state and would require full-time care for the remainder of his life. However, despite the odds, Milo persevered and worked with Ethan to rebuild his mind over many years.
Ethan not only completed public and high school, but he continued on to The University of Waterloo where he has already completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree and is currently finishing his Masters and PhD in Clinical Psychology, and today, lives independently.
“Our job as parents is to raise [our children] in such a way to grow up and take care of themselves and their families," states Milo. “I was his mother, that was my job, and this is why he is where he is today."
Once Ethan was back on track and living on his own successfully, Milo found herself looking to fill that void, a void that could only be satisfied with chocolate.
Milo dove back into the chocolate business last year when she moved into Sandycove, bringing back her creative dream and giving herself an outlet to occupy her time as a senior.
“When Covid started, I started to make chocolate like crazy again,” says Milo.
“My dream is to open a coffee shop for single women, teach them how to run a business and learn to make chocolate as an outlet" shares Milo. “When I’m gone, all my knowledge will be wasted… I want to share that knowledge – chocolate you can use anywhere in the world."
Milo sells her chocolates through online orders and pick-up. Orders can be placed through her business Facebook page: “C’est Sweet Hand Made Truffles and Edible Work of Art”.
Currently she is working on a catalogue for clients to order from. She specializes in alcohol-infused chocolates and boasts using actual alcohol from the LCBO (not artificial flavors).
For every order placed right now, Milo is donating $5 from each sale towards the Barrie Women’s Shelter.
“I want to pay it forward to the community,” shares Milo. “It’s my way of showing appreciation for the Universe helping my son."