Cody, WY, long popular as a stopover for travelers entering Yellowstone National Park from the east, serves visitors a heaping plate of western traditions, especially in summer. Fill up with nightly rodeos, re-created bad guy shootouts, country crooning with the Dan Miller Cowboy Music Review, plus hearty dollops of history and culture. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a five museum complex, showcases western art, regional natural history, firearms, and the culture of the Plains Native Americans. There’s also plenty of Buffalo Bill memorabilia.
What to do for dessert? Head to nearby Meeteetse, population 300, for fine chocolates handcrafted by bronco-busting cowboy Tim Kellogg.
Growing up, Kellogg learned how to make chocolate from his grandmother and mom, both of whom also baked excellent brownies. When Kellogg needed money in 2004 to purchase a new saddle, his family urged him to make chocolates to sell at the Cody Stampede, five days of rodeo, music, and parades held every June 30 to July 4. He didn’t want to be a vendor, partly because he preferred hanging out at the festival with his buddies to working.
“I ended up getting the booth at the Stampede to prove my family wrong,” says Kellogg. Instead, his homemade confections sold out. Eventually, Kellogg’s sweet success led him to swap his saddle for an apron, opening Meeteetse Chocolatier in 2009. “I break fewer bones in the kitchen,” says Kellogg, who refined his technique at culinary schools specializing in chocolates, learning from top pastry chefs and chocolatiers in London and Paris.
The self-proclaimed perfectionist rides himself pretty hard in the kitchen. “All of my chocolates are made by hand, fresh each day. There are no additives, no preservatives and no sugar except what’s naturally in the chocolate,” says Kellogg. As a result, Kellogg’s truffles, a shop specialty, should be eaten within five days. That’s only a problem for those wanting orders shipped a long distance in warm weather. Those with boxes in hand seem barely able to exit the store before biting into the delicacies.
Kellogg creates all the chocolates himself for his shop in Meeteetse and for the one he opened last year in Jackson, WY. He infuses some of the treats with a taste of the West. Truffles laced with huckleberry, prickly pear cactus fruit, whiskey, or beer are among the 15-plus types Kellogg crafts daily in addition to fashioning a variety of Belgian chocolates.
Those who snap up Kellogg’s savories attest to his special skill at wrangling ganache recipes and turning out prize-worthy brownies. The 30 miles from Cody to Meeteetse has become a happy trail for many chocoholics.