Casey Hickey grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, the middle child in a rowdy household headed by two educators. As a youngster, Casey’s tastes in food were idiosyncratic at best. Despite her dislike of most vegetables and even many fruits (she had “texture issues”), she could always find joy in the kitchen baking oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, Hello Dollies or Italian cream cake. Her affinity for dark chocolate began early in life, and she gladly traded her Halloween stash for all the “Special Dark” bars.
Following college and armed with a newly minted passport, Casey traveled to Ghana, West Africa, for an archaeological dig. She was utterly enthralled by the warmth and friendliness of the Ghanaian people and felt an inescapable connection to the country. She could never have imagined then that, 3 decades later, she would be working with chocolate crafted from cacao grown in the very soil in which she was digging.
Upon returning from Ghana, Casey embarked on a career in business development and fundraising. Stints in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and San Francisco sparked a passion for food and a long-overdue expansion of her palate. By her late twenties, Casey was an avid and adventuresome home cook, dinner party host, and baker of wedding cakes. She read cookbooks like novels and watched cooking shows featuring Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Jacques Torres and the original, Japanese version of “Iron Chef” for inspiration. At 36 she made the life-affirming decision to quit her perfectly good fundraising job, move to Paris, and obtain her Diplôme de Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu. It was in Paris that she discovered her affinity for working with chocolate.
Casey worked in several Bay Area pastry kitchens upon graduation from pastry school, including Sharffen Berger Chocolate’s Café Cacao. But the dream of having a European-style specialty business of her own, hatched on the night of her engagement to her now husband, kept nagging her. Further study in chocolate continued, and within a few years she and her husband, Mark, uprooted their young family from the Bay Area and moved to Casey’s home state of North Carolina to open a wine and chocolate shop. Mark left behind a career as a finance executive to pursue his passion for wine.
Their shared venture, Petit Philippe, opened in 2010, offering small-production wines from the West Coast, France and other European countries, as well as a range of Casey’s confections. When the opportunity to occupy a tiny sliver of retail space in Charlotte's burgeoning Design District arose, Casey leapt at it and in 2019 open a Parisian-inspired jewel-box chocolate boutique.
The adventure continues...