Made in Michigan: Mokaya creates edible art with chocolate


Incredibly beautiful, Mokaya chocolates merge art and science to deliver unique candies that are almost too good to eat. Almost.

“We took the risk of Grand Rapids supporting something like this,” said Charles “Smitty” Golczynski, owner of Mokaya. “We are so happy to be here, we are so happy to be on Wealthy Street and to join this growing business here.”

Golczynski got his start in chocolate about 25 years ago, when he “escaped” his real job as a restaurant business owner in Grand Rapids by going to his basement chocolate factory to experiment. Now at Mokaya they paint chocolates by hand, creating original chocolate art, both in design and flavor combinations.

Mokaya is one of the companies that Founders Brewing Company highlights through its Crafted in Michigan campaign. Over the next few weeks, we’ll bring you the stories of local businesses that are part of Made in Michigan, showcasing the people behind these businesses, their products or crafts, and the inspiration that went into them.

Check out our interview with Golczynski below, where we discuss his leap from chocolate catering, Mokaya’s unique ‘beer flights’, and why chocolate is generally great.

The dessert crate at Mokaya in Grand Rapids. Currently, you can order their chocolates and desserts for pickup or delivery in the Grand Rapids area.Courtesy photo, used with permission.

Golczynski learned the trade from his mentor, world-renowned pastry chef and chocolatier Luis Amado. Amado, who is a certified pastry chef and current instructor at Lake Michigan College, “Showed me how to do it, and it worked really well,” Golczynski said. “I fell in love with it then.”

His catering business was buzzing and Golczynski had time to perfect his basement chocolate craft. “That 10 x 10 piece turned into a 20 x 20 piece, then a 30 x 30 piece,” he says. He spent about 20 years learning the trade. When the time came for him to retire (i.e. sell the catering business), he decided it was time to go full time into chocolate making, partnering with his son, Max. They opened their store on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids four years ago.

In addition to premium chocolates, like bon bons and truffles, the company also makes chocolate bars, pastries, cookies and ice cream treats. They offer more than 70 different products. The common denominator is that each item contains some form of chocolate.

Made in Michigan: Mokaya

Courtesy photo used with permission. Leigh Ann Cobb PhotographyCourtesy photo, used with permission.

The combination of high quality ingredients, along with an incredible attention to artistic detail, make Mokaya chocolates really stand out.

In order to place these beautiful patterns and designs on some of the chocolates, Mokaya either hand paints them or uses transfer sheets that they custom design. “It’s all done by us,” Golczynski said. This summer, Mokaya is inviting local artists to come design transfer sheets for their chocolates, creating a cool collaboration between different types of artists.

Golczynski takes pride in the fact that their products not only taste great, but they also look modern and distinct. “Look at our brownie,” says Golczynski. “What makes it special, not just the brownie, which is a smoked sea salt, malted chocolate and salted caramel fudge brownie. There is a lot going on there. But then putting the design on it improves the game. ”

Made in Michigan: Mokaya

A range of hand painted chocolates from Mokaya located in Grand Rapids.Courtesy photo, used with permission.

Golczynski never stops creating, whether it’s coming up with new products, interesting flavor combinations or partnerships that could result in something extraordinary.

“We do a lot of collaborations here in Michigan,” Golczynski said. “We have a theft of beer and a theft of wine (of chocolates). The Beer Flight uses beers from all local breweries to infuse our truffles and caramels. We love collaboration in this area. Some of the breweries they’ve worked with include Founders, Vivant Brewery, Harmony Brewing, Elk Brewing, Mitten Brewing, and Grand Rapids Brewing Company.

“Using the different companies in this area has been a wonderful gift for us,” Golczynski said.

Made in Michigan: Mokaya

Crispy chocolate bars from Mokaya in Grand Rapids.Courtesy photo, used with permission.

Mokaya offers a range of flavors in its chocolates, from traditional options to unique options that you will only find here. And don’t hit them before trying some of these crazy combinations. Golcyznski tests each flavor dozens of times until it’s perfect.

“We have some weird flavors, but we have the standards,” Golczynski said. “You have to have the standards. I have a sun-dried tomato jelly with a lemon and thyme balsamic vinegar ganache. We also have a jalapeno jam, with a rosemary and lime ganache. You wouldn’t think it would go together, but they’re wonderful. You have to try them. These are the ones you wouldn’t think of buying them right away, but once you get them you’ll be buying them over and over again because they match so well.

Testing and trying new flavors is more than work. “It’s a fun game to try to combine flavors that work,” he said.

Made in Michigan: Mokaya

Hand painted chocolate turtles from Mokaya to Grand Rapids.Courtesy photo, used with permission.

Although Mokaya is not currently open to customers inside the store, you can still get their products. They have opened a take out window and offer curbside pickup and delivery in a limited area of ​​Grand Rapids. However, they fail to see their clients and they also fail to be inspired by them.

“It’s one of the things that we miss the most,” Golczynski said. “When they can see all the products and talk to us. That’s the part that hurts the most. I hope we get it back, and we’ll be able to do it again.

Made in Michigan: Mokaya

Mokaya in Grand Rapids is located along the Wealthy Street corridor in Grand Rapids.Courtesy photo, used with permission.

If you are going to:


638 Rich Street SE

Grand Rapids, MI, 49503

(616) 551-1925


Open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

Made in Michigan: Rebel Nell

Azzie Caldwell, one of Rebel Nell’s employees works on jewelry.Courtesy photo, used with permission.

Other stories from Crafted in Michigan:

The Brandino Extravaganza is a solo group that finds its own sound.

Rebel Nell’s graffiti-inspired jewelry is designed to uplift women

A young man turns his artistic skills into a business of hand forged knives

Special Brew Bakers is the originator of Beer City dog ​​biscuits

Why Founders Brewing is the origin of Crafted in Michigan

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