Just like in a Hollywood movie, Kellymarie and Nick Otto have a “meet cute” story that takes place in Downtown Paso Robles. The Paso Robes Press recently interviewed the couple for a feature about chocolate and wine pairing, but when you talk about food, chocolate and wine, of course you end up talking about love.
Kellymarie and Nick are owners of The Chocolate Stache — named after Nick’s facial hair and also a play on words about what one does with their chocolate, they stash it. Kellymarie wanted something fun and playful for the name, but this was before the mustache craze hit. Nick joked that they might as well ride the wave.
Kellymarie started in the wine industry more than 14 years ago. Her first experience with wine started with the harvest at J. Lohr, which led to a job as a weighmaster before working in the lab crushing for brick samples. She went on to work at Garretson Wine Company and then Norman Vineyards, where she did everything from working the tasting room to sampling wine in the lab.
Kellymarie took a small break and then went on to work with Cass, Edward Sellars and others.
Nick, who is the cook of the duo, brings his experience on flavor profiles from more than a decade as a sous chef, working at Villa Creek, Vic’s Cafe and now at Kitchenette in Templeton.
While working at Villa Creek, Nick met Kellymarie, who was working nearby at Pappy McGregor’s, then known as The Kilt. They met because they had a friend that happened to work at both places, but Nick said, “She thought I was a ‘yuppie’ from Villa Creek.”
“I did not like anyone who worked there,” Kellymarie admitted. “I thought they were all snooty.”
Nick said, “I, of course, thought, she’s beautiful and she’s a tough girl — I don’t know why I am attracted to her, but I am.” He asked his friend, “Can you please tell her that I think she’s cool and that I’m interested in her and that I’m not a jerk from Villa Creek?”
It took about a year and half for Kellymarie to find out that he was “kind of cool and really nice.”
“She’s a firecracker, she has a mouth,” Nick said. “She has power because she was a back bartender and people respected her. That was part of the reason I was so drawn to her … she’s awesome.”
The two became friends and played Wii bowling together. One weekend Nick went to her back bar to hang out.
“I was enjoying her company, watching her work … but there were like 100 guys and 400 girls that would talk to her all the time throughout the weekend,” he said.
Kellymarie added, “Of course there’s this group of guys who came up (and said) ‘Hey, are you married?’ No, does it look like I have a ring on my finger?”
They then asked if she had a boyfriend. She turned to where Nick was sitting and said, “I’m kind of hoping this guy back here will be my boyfriend. And he’s like ‘Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah.’” Nick said he could barely hear her, but the group of guys said to him, “Right on guy, awesome man.”
Nick recalls Kellymarie telling him, “Hey, I just threw you under the bus. I hope that’s OK, but I told those guys that I was hoping you would be my boyfriend.”
“OK, awesome,” Nick had thought. He really liked her and they went about their courtship slowly.
Now, they are happily married and have two beautiful kids — Eli, 4, and Evelyn, 2 — and are happy producing a high-quality chocolate for others to enjoy.
You can meet Kellymarie at the upcoming Vina Robles Chocolate Festival on Feb. 11 at Vina Robles, or at Rhone Rangers at Broken Earth Winery on Feb. 19 or at the Craft Beer Festival at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo on Feb. 24 and 25. For more information, visit thechocolatestasche.com.
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