Valerie Beck, a native of Chicago, earned a BA from Harvard College and a JD from Harvard Law School.
Valerie started Chicago Chocolate Tours because she loves Chicago, she loves chocolate, and she loves people.
While pondering which of her favorite chocolate shops to visit for a box of chocolates for her mother - and a few bonbons for herself - Valerie was struck by how many wonderful chocolate shops there are in Chicago, and wondered why there wasn't a chocolate tour. She had created impromptu chocolate tours for friends while living in Europe, and doing the same in her hometown of Chicago seemed like a natural step. So, when a group of Valerie's friends came to town and wanted to do something fun and different, they were delighted when she took them on the very first Chicago Chocolate Tour in November 2005. The store owners and managers - who knew Valerie as a frequent shopper - welcomed the friends warmly, and Chicago Chocolate Tours was up and running.
Chicago Chocolate Tours are guided walking and tasting tours to select chocolate shops, bakeries, and cafes, where guests sample, learn, and enjoy. The company's Tourguides share fun facts about the history and health benefits of chocolate, and guests meet shop owners and managers while sampling the specialties at each stop. The tours appeal to groups such as client entertainment parties, networking groups, companies planning employee outings, conventioneers, bachelorette parties, family reunions, and locals in search of something new. The tours run around 20 times per week, 52 weeks a year, in various Chicago neighborhoods such as The Magnificent Mile / Gold Coast, Lakeview, and Downtown / Loop. Public and private tours are available, and the tours are fun, fascinating, and delicious.
The company also offers gift certificates, chocolate-colored fine cultured pearls, a Chocolate Travel Club, and a popular new tour, Chicago Cupcake Tours, which has been nominated for a 2011 Chicago Innovation Award. Chicago Chocolate Tours has been featured in numerous publications and media, including ABC, NBC, WGN TV and Radio, CNN.com, Midwest Living, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Today's Chicago Woman, and Crain's Chicago Business.
Valerie has also opened chocolate tours in Boston and Philadelphia, as well as in the town of Geneva, IL, an hour west of Chicago. Valerie's team of Tourguides, Managers, and Staff - the Choc Stars - join her in enthusiastic support of the mission of Uplift Through Chocolate. Details on all of the above are at www.chicagochocolatetours.com.
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Valerie practiced as a lawyer in Europe and Chicago at firms including Winston & Strawn. Today, she is a cheerful chocolate expert on TV and radio, and she speaks at seminars on alternative careers for lawyers, to corporate and other groups on how to create sweet success and live authentically, to college and other students on entrepreneurship, and also to groups on the ABCs of Success: Attitude, Belief, Commitment. She has spoken at events including at:
- The Chicago Bar Association,
- The Law Bulletin,
- the U.S. Department of Education’s Council on Legal Education Opportunity,
- Northwestern Law School,
- her alma mater Harvard Law School,
- her alma mater Harvard College,
- University of Chicago,
- the Coleman Center for Entrepreneurship,
- Lexington College,
- DePaul University School of Hospitality,
- Illinois Diversity Council,
- Chicago City Treasurer business education sessions,
- Geneva Women in Business, and
- corporations ranging from mid-sized to Fortune 500.
Awards Valerie has received include Influential Women in Business 2011, from the Daily Herald Business Ledger, and Top Women Owned Business 2011 and 2012, from the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Valerie helps support CARE, a humanitarian organization that helps women in impoverished countries start and grow businesses, and CASA, which helps foster children and abused children through the court system. She has been a judge at World of Chocolate for the past few years, to benefit the Chicago AIDS Foundation, and Chicago Chocolate Tours donates gift certificates to a variety of wonderful charitable causes for their fundraisers. Valerie leads other businesspeople and professionals to join her in volunteering for the annual Turner Drew Chicago Public School's fourth grade Career Day and Science Fair. Valerie is active in civic and business organizations including the Women's Innovation Network (WIN), which fosters massive business growth for women entrepreneurs through innovation, inclusion, and inspiration, in a positive and ethical environment, where she is President and a Founding Director.
A Pilates enthusiast, Valerie also loves reading, drawing, travel, and celebrating anything from holidays to Tuesdays - with chocolate, of course.
Valerie can be reached at 312-929-2939 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about Valerie's fabulous team here.
Uplift Through Chocolate!
Chicago Chocolate Tours
Uplift Through Chocolate!