I am Justin Morey, the creator of J.A. Morey Artisan Chocolate, and I would like to tell you a little about how I went from being a professional musician to master chocolatier.
I was born and raised in Jersey City, NJ. Growing up in an Italian household had a major impact in terms of exposure to early culinary delights. My Nonna prepared traditional Sunday Dinners, and I can’t help but feel that those early moments planted the seed for my deep and ongoing appreciation of fine food and drink. I also found my escape in music early on and towards the end of eighth grade began attending punk rock shows on the lower east side in NYC and local shows inside basements and random VFW halls within the metropolitan area. Eventually my friends and I would come together and form a band, Rye Coalition, that led to national touring while still in our teens.
Upon returning back from one of these early cross country tours, most of my friends went back to college to pursue their degrees. Uncertain with the direction of the band, I decided to not enter college and to find some work until the band’s next tour. My father was a general contractor and offered me a job which enabled me to learn various skills that believe it or not, come in handy with regards to certain chocolate applications. I decided it would be best to go back to school and bunk for a while with my best friend and bandmate, Herb Wiley, and his family.
It was Thanksgiving week when Herb’s step-father, Fred Stancampiano, asked me what I was planning to doing for work. “Nothing at the moment” I replied. “Come on down to the store the Friday after Thanksgiving and we’ll put your ass to work.” When that fateful day arrived, I entered the world of chocolate, and I have been immersed inside those walls ever since. I was thrown into the water and found that I was not only able to swim, I quite enjoyed everything that was thrown my way. Rich, Fred’s brother and business partner became my mentor and teacher in the art of making chocolate and confections. I started off learning how to temper chocolate, the importance of it, and I took on new tasks daily. My days were filled with anything from molding hollow chocolates for a couple of hours to making the filling for peanut cups to folding chocolate properly when it came time to make monster batches of roasted salted almond bark. It worked out with the band’s touring schedule as well, and I could buy vintage instruments/amplifiers, clothes and records. This was going to be alright. Until...
Over time Rye Coalition shows got bigger, and other opportunities began to present themselves. The band toured the country playing shows with The White Stripes, At the Drive In, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, and recorded with Steve Albini at his Chicago studio, Electrical Audio. The band was asked to be the support act for Queens of the Stone Age during their US tour for their newly released LP, Songs 'For the Deaf.' We were being courted by major labels and ended up signing with Dreamworks (because Elliot Smith and Jonathan Fire Eater were on that label) and shortly after we signed this multi/million dollar deal, moved to LA to begin recording our major label debut LP over at Sound City with Dave Grohl in the producer’s seat. We toured Europe with the Foo Fighters and saw so many places I never dreamed I would ever have the opportunity to visit.
Throughout this wild experience, my time with chocolate was put on hold for obvious reasons. However it wouldn’t be long before I returned back with a new mission. Dreamworks sold to Universal Vivendi. Many of the folks we met lost their jobs. They didn’t know what to do with us at Universal. We were on Geffen for a couple of weeks then on Interscope for a month or two. Eventually, we severed ties with Universal all together which really had me needing to hustle - I started a new band, The Black Hollies, got back in the studio and hit the road touring relentlessly. Things were going really well and then the constant touring began to take its toll on all of us. We called it a day and I lived off of royalties from the various tv/film sync placements while I tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life...
I made the decision to learn everything about chocolate over at Al Richards. In exchange for my labor, I was given the opportunity to utilize the 5000 square foot production facility to be able to push myself in uncharted exploratory areas with my own chocolate confections. In doing so, I embarked of a constant quest of continuing knowledge in chocolate techniques. I was able to push myself to try various methods and combinations I had never thought possible and knew becoming a Master Chocolatier was in fact the page turning in my crazy life's story so here I am, hand making some super delicious, classic chocolates with my own wild spin.
Thanks for indulging me, now find some edible art for you or someone you really dig.