Jeff Levy is a software project manager in our engineering department, which means he is responsible for coordinating and managing development efforts to align with our corporate goals. In addition, he takes great pride in being part of the amazing Bronto culture. He’s helped to coordinate many fun activities, including rec-league softball, volleyball, a March Madness bracket challenge, a hot dog-eating contest, ping-pong and pool tournaments and poker nights. And he’s also participated in many volunteer opportunities in the community.
But Jeff’s talents don’t stop there. That’s right! On the side, Jeff is a caramel connoisseuer who opened his own small business, Dr. Monkey’s Ridiculously Good Caramels. I recently asked him a bit more about this latest venture.
How was Dr. Monkey’s Ridiculously Good Caramels born?
It started with a request from my daughter. As she was getting her braces off, she asked me to make caramel, something she hadn’t been allowed to have. I found a recipe online, and the caramels turned out really good! I made several more batches for my daughter and for others (The moms at her gymnastics class love me!) and tweaked the recipe further until someone suggested I think about selling them. And so it began.
The Dr. Monkey name was chosen ahead of a few other suggestions, which included Chef Jeff’s Sweet Treats, Durham Sugar Daddy and Angel Poo to name a few. My girlfriend gets credit for coming up with the name and the logo (She is awesome!).
Where did you learn to make caramels?
Like most things these days, my initial recipe came from the internet. After that, it was a lot of trial and a little error. I’m still tweaking things and trying to come up with new flavor ideas. I have recently expanded to include spicy and coffee.
How long does it take you to make a batch?
Making a batch (about 3.5 lbs) is a three-step process – the first and most critical being the cooking, which takes about an hour per batch. The second is the easiest – letting them cool and set up, which usually takes overnight. The final step is packaging. Each caramel gets wrapped in parchment paper and takes me about an hour to wrap a batch (unless I make the kids help).
How many caramels have you had in one sitting?
I plead the fifth! Way too many!
As an expert caramel maker, can you give regular cooks some tips on making the perfect caramel?
The ingredients are common for basic caramels, but the art is in getting the right consistency, the firmness and softness. Heating them to the right temperature is the key. Even one degree can make a difference in the outcome.
Okay, I’m hungry. Where can I get them?
I have agreements with a few local Durham establishments, including Fullsteam Brewery and Rumors Hair Salon. Otherwise, I am always taking orders via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and through my website.
Tell me one thing people might not know about you.
Well, everyone knows that I am Canadian, so how about this. I followed my dream of being a baseball player to the US and played Division I College Baseball. When I was a teenager, I got to play a game in the SkyDome where the Toronto Blue Jays play.
I have the opportunity to work with Jeff on the Active Committee, which is a great way to meet and interact with Brontos you normally wouldn’t have a chance to work with directly. His sense of humor, epic t-shirts and excitement makes the Active Committee so much fun! Interested in working for a company that puts an emphasis on team building? Join us!