40. Katrina Markoff

Founder and CEO, Vosges Haut-Chocolat 
Age: 38 
Industry: Consumer Products

While a student at Le Cordon Bleu in France, Markoff started mixing chocolate with unlikely flavors like curry, taleggio, and wasabi. In 1998 she opened her first store in Chicago, and her combinations caught on; within a year she was in Neiman Marcus. Mail-order and catalogue sales followed; now Vosges is sold in 2,000 stores (including eight of its own boutiques) and has spawned competitors (Godiva is said to have attempted several Vosges-like products), and this year, after multiple requests from Wal-Mart and Target, Markoff launched a lower-priced line for mass merchants. 

Favorite gadget: Mortar and pestle. 

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