Chris Edwards
Chris Edwards

Talk about a fantastic job: Chris Edwards is CEO of Lawrenceville-based Edward Marc Brands, which consists of Edward Marc Chocolatier, The Milk Shake Factory and Snappers Crafted Snacks. In February, NEXTpittsburgh reported that The Milk Shake Factory will open 25 new locations nationwide as part of a partnership with Thomas and Alba Tull.

Chris, who lives in Shadyside, shares that Edward Marc Brands now uses 100% sustainably sourced cocoa, and is committed to developing sustainable farming practices in West Africa.

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

We just finished one of my favorite events of the year — marching in the Pittsburgh Pride Parade with The Milk Shake Factory. This year we had over 40 people march with us and we also hosted a diversity and inclusion event with PNC Bank. It’s very humbling to see a city that is so supportive and inclusive.

Best part of your job?

Creating, manufacturing and innovating motivate me each day. As our family business continues to grow, it’s also rewarding to provide careers and opportunities for families in our region.

What’s your big idea for Pittsburgh?

Designated public smoking areas were introduced in D.C. while I lived there, and it was a huge improvement. It really did a lot to create a healthier and cleaner lifestyle for smokers and non-smokers (especially kids).

How did you come to be living in Pittsburgh?

I’m a boomerang. I grew up in Hampton Township, attended Duquesne University and moved away to Washington, D.C. for about 15 years. A few years ago, as our company was growing, I made the decision to move back home. It’s good to be back in Pittsburgh!

What is the one thing that would surprise Pittsburgher’s most about you?

My first job out of college was working for the U.S. Chief of Protocol at the State Department in Washington, D.C. I was responsible for planning and executing visits for foreign Heads of State and their delegations. One of my most memorable events was planning a trip for the King of Saudi Arabia when he met with President George W. Bush at his ranch in Crawford, TX. This job gave me the opportunity to eventually work in the White House and travel to nearly 80 countries at a young age.

Chris Edwards
Albert Fonticiella and Chris Edwards with their dog, Atticus, at the family farm in Saxonburg.

At what Pittsburgh restaurant do you always order dessert and why?

I’m surrounded by sweets all day! Developing new chocolate and milkshake recipes keeps me satisfied at work. When dining out, we usually go to our neighborhood haunt Point Brugge for some of the best Belgium food and beer. I reserve the desserts for taste-testing at the office.

Podcast you’re addicted to?

I really like The Moth. Last Fall, I attended a taping at the Byham Theater and it was great to see it come to life in person. It’s storytelling at its finest.

Where do you take out of town visitors?

Strolling brunch through the Strip, visiting The Warhol, enjoying dinner at Dinette, and hosting dessert at The Milk Shake Factory.

What book is on your nightstand?

I’m reading “Devil in the Milk,” which discusses A2 dairy — a milk that has a lot of health benefits and is easier to digest than average milk. Recently, we created a new ice cream for The Milk Shake Factory using Jersey milk from Rivendale Farms that is higher in A2 protein. During the development process, I learned more about milk and dairy cows than I ever thought I would in my life. More research is being done to help explain how some people with a dairy intolerance are able to enjoy A2 milk with little to no symptoms.

Best Pittsburgh brunch spot?

Square Café. I love a good vegetarian hash, and theirs is always worth the wait.

Bridge you LOVE to walk or bike over?

In the evenings after work, I love walking Atticus, our dog, around the Cathedral of Learning and museums, then across Schenley Bridge to Phipps Conservatory. On that walk, you can truly appreciate the architecture and learn more about the famous family names that built this city.

Chris Edwards
Albert Fonticiella and Chris Edwards at a family wedding in Memphis.

Favorite Pittsburgh athlete?

Jake Guenztel. He’s a star on the rise, and most importantly, he likes milkshakes.

What’s your Pittsburgh comfort food?

Shepard’s Pie at Piper’s Pub and Soup Dumplings at Everyday Noodle are both good for your soul – especially during the cold Pittsburgh winters.

It’s time to unwind. Where do you head?

We spend as much time as we can on our family farm in Saxonburg. It’s nice to get out of the city to take a deep breath, let the dog run off-leash, shoot clays and explore the large pine forest on our property.

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Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.