By Curtis Bunn, Urban News Service

A Division of Zenger News Karen Young always believed she was following her passion during a long successful career as a software engineer. Then, at 50, a chance opportunity ignited a fresh business idea that took her back to her childhood.

Her inspiration was ignited in 2015 when a close friend asked her to coordinate a dessert bar at her wedding reception. Young tapped into a creative side that she generally suppressed by recalling her youth in South Central Los Angeles where lollipops were soothing treats in an environment that often was uneasy and besieged by gangs.
Then she added a twist, deciding to infuse them with libations she already had at home.
The adult version of her childhood favorite was a success. The guests enjoyed them so muchthat Young took several orders for the unique treat at the wedding. And thus, the idea for Gourmee Bars was born. But Young knew that a business requires more than just a good idea. Over the next four years, she conducted research and experiments in her Atlanta home, learning about and sampling edible fruits and flowers. She mixed herbs and spices in multiple combinations and used friends as taste-testers.

Young sampled more candy than she cares to remember to get where she is and went to school on mixing elements with sugar. “It was important that I learned the chemistry of creating candy,” she said. “If not done properly, hard candy can turn out grainy or too soft. So I had to learn through trial and error what happens with the ingredients while they are cooking and to understand how slight variations of cooking temperatures or adding flavorings could completely change the result. Those were my challenges.” All the while, she continued to work her day job.

“Mom, this is your passion.” her 23-year old daughter Issa Clark, told her this summer as she eagerly mixed dessert concoctions over her stove. Young who had just finished an eight-hour day at her regular job was startled by the comment.

“I hadn’t thought about it that way,” Young said. “But she was right. I would do my job at work, but every free moment I thought about getting into the kitchen and making lollipops. The mere thought of it excited me. So the next step was natural.”