By Patricia Canole
Maribel Lieberman’s passion for confections started when she was eight years old when she made candies and sold them to neighborhood children in her native Honduras. Years passed with a relocation to New York City where she enrolled in the prestigious Parsons School of Design. Here her love for fashion and design would take her on a journey in the fashion industry.
But it was the creating foods that remained at her core. Maribel soon found herself running her own elegant catering business—Maribel’s Gourmet Cuisine which paved the way for her lifelong passion—chocolate.
Maribel’s first foray into the world of chocolate was a New York City storefront, Lunettes et Chocolat. The shop focused on designer chocolates and glasses. Following this, Maribel’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to open her pride and joy, MarieBelle Chocolates in Soho. Her newest store can be found in The Kitano Hotel, NY.
New York Lifestyles recently had the pleasure of meeting Maribel to find out what makes this incredibly talented woman create beautiful signature confections.
Tell us more about how you transitioned from Lunettes et Chocolat to MarieBelle?
September 11th happened but we continued with Lunettes et Chocolat. The area was horrible and certainly not a place to shop. That Christmas, I decided to take a new space, as a pop-up chocolate shop. It was an art gallery. I repainted it blue and called it MarieBelle. We opened on December 15, 2001. We’re still here.
Tell us how MarieBelle distinguishes itself from other companies?
I like to present all the products beautifully. Perhaps someone who likes modern design might not be comfortable here in my shop. But I think it attracts customers who feel the same way.
Do you think your Honduran heritage has influenced your success?
I grew up in the countryside, where cacao trees grew in the backyard. We drank cacao in hot water with sugar. When I read up on cacao’s history, I thought to myself—I need to bring back what America gave to the world. That became my passion.
What has inspired you to add beautiful
designs to the ganache?
Because I come from fashion. Chocolate has three colors: white, milk, and dark. But I give
it an extra twist. Although it doesn’t look like chocolate, you follow your senses—which
makes me smile. Every design has a story.
What is something we don’t know about you?
I love classical music.
Describe your personal style?
I like elegance and classic, not necessarily trendy.
What is the motto you live by?
“Go for it!”
Do you think all the latest healthier eating trends have impacted the luxury chocolate industry?
I continue to use everything natural. It’s not just about what you eat; it’s about how much you eat. It’s the reason I serve my hot chocolate in a tiny cup. And that’s why I serve a ganache that is just 50 calories. My hot chocolate doesn’t have a lot of sugar; it has a lot of chocolate.
Harris introduced me to three award-winning wines that are worthwhile additions to the season.
Domaine Serene’s multi-vintage ‘r’ Rosé is a great pre-food menu addition since it’s light and cleansing. It’s also a wonderful option for brunch and can fill in the gaps in foods that don’t pair well with other wines. The care that goes into producing this bottle makes it an anomaly among rosé wines, in that it can be aged and enjoyed for a handful of years or consumed young.
What is the best advice to give any aspiring entrepreneur?
Ultimately what’s going to sell is if you have a passion for the product you really love. It’s a passion that’s going to get you there. There are many working hours. You might not get a salary for a long time. But persevere. It’s key. You’ve got to love what you’re doing.