Earlier this week I mentioned in one of WKND Chocolate's instagram posts that I was interested in creating more traditions and rituals moving forward. I've moved around a fair amount since university and have struggled to find certain stability in my professional and social lives. Diving into craft chocolate with intention and ambition has also proven to test my steadfastness and tenacity; taking on three spinning plates - WKND chocolate making and brand building, Well Tempered podcast research/creation/editing, and Well Tempered community management, has been quite the feat. Within that however, I've come to learn of and/or meet incredibly talented and equally driven (busy, plate-spinning!?) people in the industry who rouse me to continue on this chocolate journey -- and I know there are so many more to uncover. Not for a minute do I want to stop telling her stories, thus, the 'year in review' post will become a new tradition, and will allow for a greater number of women in chocolate to share their accomplishments of the last year and wishes for the next, until perhaps I have the opportunity to interview and record each and every one....
Literally thousands of thank you's are owed from this year alone on my behalf, but some imperative ones are: to my Mujeres Milagros gals - Sophia Rea and Tamara LaValla in particular for leading the charge, Tania Molina of VillaKuyaya for showing me her Ecuador, donors of the Peruvian cacao farmers fundraiser following spring flooding and Brian Horsley (Marañón Chocolate) for assisting/delivering, podcast alumni, Carol Morse for the maker-ship, Pashmina Lalchandani (Bar & Cocoa) for epic chocolate tasting sessions, to #womeninchocolate gatherings and boss ladies like Callie Neylan stepping up to host, ladies of Yellow Seed for listening, the Utah folks for a great wknd of tours, role models, for anyone who tasted and provided feedback for WKND, and Estelle Tracy for saving the day.
And you, thank you for your continued support. Thank you for believing in these times as the renaissance of fine cacao/chocolate; we have so much to be grateful for, and so much to work towards, and to have this chance is marvelous.
- Lauren Heineck, Founder of WKND Chocolate & the Well Tempered Community, Host/Creator of the Well Tempered Podcast
Samanta Bakker, Chocolate Maker, Chocolatier & Patissier at Monsieur Truffle in Melbourne
This year has been full of great ingredients, surprising and delicious chocolate and lots of challenges. I’m very thankful that I have been able to use amazing products and make chocolate that tastes good without adding any hidden nasties.
Also, this year I sent Monsieur Truffle's first milk chocolate bar to the International Chocolate Awards and I’m very proud that we got a bronze from the Asia-Pacific Competition. It was the first time that I sent any of my chocolates to a competition, and it feels great to receive recognition for hard work.
I’m very grateful to be a part of such a great industry, full of people doing amazing things and so kind to share their knowledge with everyone to help each other in a disinterested way.
I hope next year will be full of interesting challenges, great flavors and amazing chocolate to be discovered. So many things to do and learn and so little time...
Monsieur Truffle Website
Instagram @samanta_bakker @monsieurtruffle
Monsieur Truffle on Facebook
Zelia Frangioni,Chocolatras Online, Founder, Writer & Chocolate Reviewer in Sao Paulo
I had three important choco-moments in 2017. For the first time in my life, I had the chance to visit cacao farms in person, and this was an incredible experience in my own country. I tasted cacao pulp at the plantation, on a day of hot sun interspersed with some moments of heavy rain. The smell of wet nature and the view of the cacao trees surrounded by the “Mata Atlantica” (rainforest) were amazing. It is so amazing to me that that is where great chocolates begin, cacao plantations!
I later had the opportunity to be a juror of the International Chocolate Awards, where some of the best chocolates in the world end up to receive prestigious recognition. The chocolates I tasted, the people I met and the first judging experience are highlights in my choco-life. Lastly, I worked very hard organizing the first Brazilian Bean to Bar Chocolate Award show and I am happy that it was a success.
I am very grateful for all the people I met this year, from cacao farmers, chocolate makers, tasters, chocolatiers, and chocolate experts. I have learned so much with all of them, including the Well Tempered podcast.
For 2018, I hope to see the Brazilian bean to bar movement grow. That is where I want to help. I want the market to understand the craft bean to bar concept, so we can have more people interested in making this kind of chocolate. I wish also that I can meet many more women and men in this wonderful chocolate world.
Elfi Maldonado, Co-founder & chocolate maker of Qantu Chocolat in Montreal
2017 has been an exciting year for us at Qantu. We are honored and driven to continue in this chocolate adventure because of the recognition we received, both in London via the Academy of Chocolate with two Golds and a Silver just a few months into this. In October we received another two, this time from the International Chocolate Awards. We were over the moon when our friends texted us the results since we were not present in person.
We also had the privilege to collaborate with numerous creatives in Montreal at La Souk, a Christmas market/exposition that I've admired for many years. It is traditionally made up of design icons of the region and vendors are chosen under a very strict evaluation system. To be a part of this in 2017 was a highlight for me.
Thirdly, my visit to Quillabamba, Cuzco was another point of interest for the year. I met Augusto Palomino and his family who are dedicated to preserving the native variety of Chuncho cacao, with over a dozen varieties growing on the farm. They are like family now. We are still working on the final concept, but a goal of ours is to launch a 100% heirloom inspired chocolate that we will call 'Augustina.'
In 2018 I want to have a more active role in preserving heirloom varietal cacao. We will work more diligently and directly with the cooperatives and producer friends. As a business, we will continue to rely on our mission statement of promoting the biodiversity of where we source our cacao. We will also look to more firmly establish the business - with the intention of being more stable and planned, as the previous year was one of implantation and adapting to the market.
Connecting with local ambassadors with be crucial and exciting. We will launch a Qantu chocolate ice cream around Easter with chefs at Les Givrés, which happens to be my favorite local ice cream shop.
Another chef that I admire, Marcel Larrea, of the restaurant Tiradito will work with us on an exclusive dessert recipe. It's a surprise still - so we'll see! Many other projects like this are in brainstorming mode.
1. ¿Cuáles han sido tus momentos o hitos más importantes del 2017 para ti / Qantu? ¿Qué has aprendido de ellos o que te da gratitud?
1.- Los Premios! : SEÑAL PARA SEGUIR EN ESTA AVENTURA
La premiacion de Qantu en Londres( Academy of chocolate). Fue súper mágico para nosotros lograr dos medallas de oro y una de plata a pocos meses de comenzar con esta aventura.
En Octubre también tuvimos dos medallas más del International Chocolate Awards, fue super especial cuando nuestras amigas en Londres nos mandaban mensajes con los resultados!!
2.- La Souk@sat: SER PARTE DE CREADORES INSPIRANTES Y LOCALES. Es como una exposición venta de Navidad donde solo participan artesanos iconos de diseño en Montréal, son escogidos bajo un sistema de evaluación muy estricto. Hace años que admiro este evento con todo mi corazón y este 2017 fuimos parte y fue Top top top cada creador tiene una magia especial!
3.- Mi visita a Quillabamba - Cuzco
Conoci a Augusto Palomino y familia. Ellos se estan dedicando a preservar el cacao Chuncho y en su finca tiene una docena de variedades es alucinante. Ahora ellos son nuestra familia y nuestro reto es presentar al mundo AUGUSTINA, la tableta 100% inspiration nativa. Aun estamos trabajando el concepto.
2. ¿Qué esperas para el 2018 tanto para ti/Qantu y la industria en sí?
Elfi: Tener un rol más activo en la preservación de cacao nativo. Voy a trabajar de la mano de las cooperativas de cacao con las que trabajamos y directamente con algunos amigos productores.
Qantu: El 2018 vamos a continuar con nuestra misión de promover la biodiversidad.Estabilización de la empresa. El 2017 fue un año de implementación, de adaptación al mercado. El 2018 todo tiene que ser mas estable, más planificado.
Alianzas con embajadores locales. Estamos trabajando con embajadores locales. Lanzamos el helado Qantu en Pascuas de la mano de Les Givrés, mis helados favoritos.
Un postre creación de un chef que yo admiro mucho Marcel Larrea del restaurant TIRADITO. Aun no sé en qué consiste pero me dijo que sera una sorpresa. Y algunos más que aun estamos en brainstorming.
Rita Zam, Founder & Chocolatier at La Carambole Patisserie, Amsterdam
2017 was an launching off point for me as I am relatively new to the field of chocolate. My background is in theater and art. The defining moment for me was when I felt the connection between art and bonbons. I am grateful for having found my element and meeting truly passionate people from the field along the way. Hoja Verde is a great example of that kind of relationship and dedication to craft, and I am proud to use their grown & made in Ecuador bean-to-bar chocolate in my creations.
In 2018 I hope to be able to switch to bean to bar couvertures exclusively. This way I can offer the best pralines and support chocolate makers who do craft work, and also create unique tastes and flavor profiles for my own products. Handcrafted chocolate is not shy, it has much more energy and character than the stock blends, and this matches extremely well with how I design my chocolates. Due to the way my confections look, it is much easier for me to put artisanal chocolate in the spotlight. It gives a great feeling both to me and to my customers that sustainable, well-made ingredients are used and there is a lot of research into picking the right flavors. In 2018 I am also looking forward to the development of vegan chocolate formulations, which is a very active field at the moment – the demand for vegan products is increasing and it is going to be an exciting challenge to offer bonbons that exceed the highest of expectations in both presentation and taste.
Marllory Saurin, Mishky Cacao in Chazuta, San Martin
The most important moment of 2017 for me personally was when we participated in the Expo Amazonica business event. It made me realize a few things: such as, selling vs. negotiating your product, just how large this industry is, and also how revered and appreciated San Martin chocolate is. As for our company, Mishky Cacao, it's a privilege to continue to participate in Peru's largest festivals and chocolate salons, e.g. Mistura. We are also deeply moved and inspired by the Peruvian and international visitors who come to see and tour our tiny factory. They love, appreciate, and value our work, and these are incredible reasons to push forward as an enterprise.
In 2018 we're putting a tremendous effort to scale up our business, both professionally and interpersonally. We always say "We (women) want to leave a legacy." We understand that the beloved chocolate industry is very broad, but we're positioning ourselves at this moment to be a brand in a niche market. I hope that the industry as a whole can increase consumer awareness through global marketing campaigns, ones that highlight good chocolate of course. This could be done through social media, media outlets, or forming specialty groups that will get the word out.
1. ¿Cuáles han sido tus momentos o hitos más importantes del 2017 para ti / Mishky? ¿Qué
has aprendido de ellos o que te da gratitud?
Personalmente el momento más importante fue participar en la rueda de negocios del evento
denominado “Expo Amazónica”; realmente pude darme cuenta cómo funciona en sí el hecho
vender o de negociar tu producto, lo inmenso que es esta industria y cuan querido y apreciado
es nuestro chocolate San Martinense.
Como Mishky Cacao para nosotros es un privilegio seguir participando en la ferias más grandes
de nuestro Perú como el “salón del cacao y el chocolate”, “Mistura” y mas también nos
reconforta y nos anima a seguir avanzando es la visita a nuestra pequeña fábrica de personas
de diferentes lugares tanto nacionales o extranjeros. Ellos (as) aman, aprecian y valoran
nuestro trabajo y eso para nosotros es y será siempre un motivo y razón para seguir avanzando
2. ¿Qué esperas para el 2018 tanto para ti/Mishky y la industria en sí?
Para el 2018 nuestra meta es CRECER empresarialmente y como calidad persona. Siempre lo
decimos “Nosotras queremos dejar un legado”. Sabemos que la industria del muy apreciado y
bendito chocolate es muy amplia; lo que esperamos por ahora es posicionarnos como marca
en el mercado nicho. Lo que espero de la industria en si es motivar o animar más al mundo
entero a consumir chocolate (el buen chocolate) claro, por medio de marketing. Se puede usar
aún más las redes sociales, formar grupos que nos pasemos la voz y regar información en
internet, periódicos, televisión, eventos, etc.
Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolate, Manchester, England
What has been the defining moment of 2017 for you & Dormouse? What other milestones are you grateful for this year
There have been so many amazing moments for Dormouse this year, its hard to narrow it down to just one! I think the absolute highlight has been winning UK Rising Star at the Academy of Chocolate, it was something that was completely unexpected – I remember when it was announced at the awards ceremony thinking it was odd that there was another company called Dormouse there while all of our friends pushed us forward to go and accept the award! I’m so grateful to the Academy for recognising our hard work, and it has opened so many doors for us.
We were also lucky enough to have our toasted white chocolate appear in a feature on white chocolate on Sunday Brunch (a weekly TV show in the UK) which was absolutely crazy! We weren’t prepared for just how many people wanted to buy a bar after seeing it on TV!
What's on the horizon for 2018, what are you most looking forward to within your business and the industry?
We have just upgraded to a larger grinder which will double our production capacity, so 2018 should hopefully bring lots more chocolate! With the increased capacity we are hoping to expand our product range, so look out for new origins and more!
Within the industry I am looking forward to seeing more women makers rise to the top, there are some amazing women working in the industry and I would love to see more ways for us to network . At the London Chocolate Show someone gathered as many female makers as they could find together for a group photo and its great to see the numbers rising
In the UK it also feels like bean to bar chocolate is becoming more mainstream so I am looking forward to seeing how that develops this year. I think the rising numbers of makers mean we all have to up our game, think outside the box and push ourselves to develop amazing chocolate. I’m looking forward to the challenge!
Dot, Erin, Teagan & Sam of Neary Nogs in Northern Ireland
In 2017 we took the the leap to grow. We started to upscale our business in the beginning of the year as we were not able to keep up with demand. It's been a huge labour of chocolate love on every side and yet a very rewarding experience. Learning to use bigger equipment comes with a few hiccups but the fun we have had is definitely worth the adventure! The mess we've made at time making bars has been epic and so much trial & error. Working together as a family & as women has certainly brought us closer together and made us appreciate each other's strengths.
During this year we won a local award for best artisan product for our bean to bar chocolate and that was huge for us to be able to share what we do as part of broader island life.
Also, It was fantastic to attend the London Chocolate Show, showcase our chocolate with Bean to Bar Britain and meet and greet so many chocolate makers from around the world! Our chocolate community is filled with beautiful people who are passionate about what we all do.
For 2018 we have on deck mostly bars, bars, and more bars; making Irish craft chocolate...one slow batch at a time! We are hoping to visit a cacao farm or two this year, an "origin trip" as they say.
In the New Year we are very excited to have our online shop up and running, as well as hosting tours in our tiny chocolate factory in collaboration with local food organisations. www.nearynogs.com
Our hope for the industry is that through sharing craft chocolate locally and raising awareness of cacao farms, the bean to bar process in events & schools, will we provide the keys to a greater understanding & appreciation of cacao. Personally, we love learning the traditions, origins and science of the art of chocolate, then sharing what we learn.
Victoria Cooksey, Chocolate Reviewer & Blogger/Vlogger (Washington State)
A defining moment of 2017 in chocolate for me personally was interviewing Shawn Askinosie. Shawn’s overall positive nature, humility (even though he clearly knows his stuff), and supportive attitude was just what I needed at that time in life and he really renewed my enthusiasm about the craft chocolate industry as a whole. I am grateful to Shawn and to everyone who has taken their precious time to allow me to interview them and interact with them through social media; and a special thank you to everyone who as been a part of my blog projects. I am grateful to see all the new craft chocolate books and for projects like Hazel Lee’s 'Taste with Colour' that came out this year, because it shows that craft chocolate continues to grow and has room for many varied avenues. Also for the expanding maker lines available, from the wave of high quality white chocolate bars, all the way to the ever more tasty 100% bars. So much to explore! I also have gratitude for everyone I got to both catch up with and meet for the first time at The Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle.
My plans for 2018 are to continue to review craft chocolate and make my review videos, along with completing even more interviews with those in the craft chocolate industry. I look forward to meeting more chocolate makers and other reviewers in the future. And now, to count down the days until the next Northwest Chocolate Festival so I can hang out with many of you in person again! Yay!
Jody Hayden Co-Owner & Chocolatier at Grocer's Daughter Chocolate (Michigan)
Here are some of the most exciting moments for us in 2017:
- Every spring for several years now I've organized and lead trips to Ecuador to visit our partner farmers. This past year our trip was especially momentous because two very special people joined the trip, my 18 year old nephew, Brady Dotson, who was a senior in high school at the time of the trip and Molly Flerlage, the longest standing GDC employee, having worked at the chocolate shop since she was 11 and now a senior at Macalester in St. Paul. It's always a great joy to share our passion and connections with people, especially two super smart, change-making young adults that I admire so much.
- In May of 2017, in an effort to glean interest and get feedback from craft chocolatiers and colleagues, I hosted my dear friend, Jenny Samaniego of Conexion Chocolate, and her partner Pablo Torres, on a short tour of several chocolatiers and chocolate professionals in the Upper Midwest. Many of these chocolatiers I've admired from a distance but hadn't had the opportunity to meet face-to-face. Without exception, they all opened their doors to us, providing valuable feedback and sharing the realities of their respective businesses (and serving us fantastic chocolate, of course). To receive such a warm embrace from our fellow chocolatiers was a wonderful thing and a great reminder that we are stronger together than we are alone.
- We have partnered with Jenny Samaniego from Conexion for several years to source our chocolate for GDC and this year we decided to offer her fantastic chocolate to other like-minded chocolatiers, chef and chocolate enthusiasts throughout the United States. We raised almost $200,000.00 to bring in our first container of Conexion Chocolate into the country and, in November, it cleared US customs. Yahoo! Through our newly forming buying club called The Chocolate Squad, we now have available Conexion Chocolate's organic, direct trade chocolate and couverture made from Nacional cacao. It's delicious! (And, if you're interested, we have it in 81%, (3) 70% from different co-ops, 64%, 55% and 43% Dark Milk.
- I was at a small breakout session during the NW Chocolate Festival Unconference, sitting at the table with Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe from Venezuela, Luisa Abram and her sister from Brazil, Jenny Samaniego from Ecuador and a few others, discussing what it was like to be a woman working in chocolate. What struck me was that these women, undoubtedly some of the most influential change-makers in chocolate in South America today, were incredibly down-to-earth and open. I've had many conversations with my friend and chocolate buyer at Zingerman's, Emily Case, who wishes to connect with more women makers, especially those who are making chocolate in countries of origin. She notes that most of our craft chocolate industry is dominated by white men simply because they have better access to resources and/or savvy to grow their businesses and market their brands. The conversation with this group of women made it clear to me why it's important for our industry to support and promote women-makers, and especially those who aren't in the United States. We have a lot to learn from one another and a collaborative, open approach from a variety of perspectives stands to benefit our entire industry.
So it was another year of operating our craft chocolate confections business in lovely Northern Michigan; serving our loyal customers; sourcing super yummy chocolate and ingredients from small family farms; working with our fantastic staff; supporting community events and initiatives; and eating great chocolate. 2017 was a great year and we expect no less from 2018!
Jyl Kutsche, Founder of The Yoga of Chocolate (& an E.R.Y.T. 500)
I'm deeply grateful for three highlights of 2017 that I would qualify as both defining moments & milestones for this year.
1. I was standing in the middle of one of Heriberto Chujandama Tapullima's (of Rio Bosque in Chazuta, San Martin, Peru) cacao farms, and we were surrounded by the most beautiful array of native trees and next to this magnificent, mature ayahuasca vine. Despite my limited Spanish, when Heriberto gestured with his arm at both the trees and the vine, and said "medicina", I knew I had found a kindred spirit. This farmer, so passionate about his work with cacao -- not only for the beautiful chocolate that it will eventually produce, but because of its medicinal value to the world, a world so deeply in need of this heart medicine these days.
2. Without the beautiful community created and brought together through Well Tempered, I would never have crossed paths with Robin & Marcos from Ucayali River Cacao in Pucallpa, Peru. The first post I ever saw within the Facebook group was one from Robin. I had been in Pucallpa for several months, trying to connect with anyone growing fine flavor cacao there to no avail. Until I saw that post. I had no idea who they were, or what they were doing; I just replied "you're in Pucallpa??" He invited me to meet them the next morning to come see their processing facilities. I agreed to meet him at 6:30 am (mind, you I had no idea who I was actually meeting). We arrived just in time to see 9 tons of raw cacao being received. That was pure magic. (Not to mention they spoke English!)
3. Mujeres Milagros*! A community was born that weekend in September '17 in Santa Fe. Or maybe it was more of a movement? And it wasn't just limited to those of us who were lucky to be in attendance. To me, it felt much bigger than "us". And very much needed - a non-virtual space to share, to be heard, to nurture and be nourished, and to simply BE. Like chocolate, women need that...especially women in chocolate!
I'm a long-time yoga instructor who's worked in the world of chocolate in many different ways for almost 20 years now...so a big struggle has been how to define (and to a certain degree, justify) what I'm doing...and why! I have this feeling that some of the pieces to this puzzle will be coming together in the next year. I'm taking a huge leap of faith and leading my first The Yoga of Chocolate retreat in Peru at the end of May. I've led TYoC workshops all over the world for over 8 years now - and in them I legitimately weave together the more internal, contemplative aspects of Yoga with the subtleties that can be experienced when tasting fine chocolate. The retreat will expand on this to include things besides chocolate, of course, but I find chocolate to be a beautiful partner/tool in this work. It's how I've worked with it for many years and it's been a powerful teacher for me.
I'm also working on this idea for a project that would bridge together the cacao farmers I love in Peru to the people in the west that I present my workshops to or hold ceremony for. It's also symbolic of my yearning to better bridge together my two "worlds" of yoga & cacao.
TYoC website www.theyogaofchocolate.com
Jyl's May yoga & chocolate retreat in Peru
*Jyl is the Mujeres Milagros resident yoga instructor and you can experience her classes at this June's upcoming retreat
Barbie Van Horn, Craft Chocolate Educator & Creator of Finding Fine Chocolate
In 2017 I tasted all the way around the world, or at least as I refer to it - the cacao belt. I tasted all of the bars I had from each origin, all categorized by region within the origin. It was an amazing journey that completely changed the way I taste and log my tastings. Now I can easily compare origins, regions, and makers to see consistencies and variations as well as my personal favorites.
I'm most grateful for the people in the chocolate community who perform random acts of kindness that support and encourage when I'm experiencing moments of disappointment or loneliness. Most of the time these people don't even know that their simple acts, invitations, and conversations carry the loads of encouragement needed at that precise moment. It has happened so many times that it can't be coincidence. This is a very special group of people and I'm so very thankful to be connected.
In 2018 I'm going to embark on another around the cacao belt tasting, going a bit more in depth this time. I can hardly wait to get started! There are a few other projects that are on the horizon that are more fun, one series of tastings all 100% and a few other themed tastings. I'll also continue with the palate training and have some fun exercises planned in that area too. And, I can't forget travel. I'm looking forward to exploring some new chocolate locations in 2018. So much to look forward to!
Asmiriam Roa, Barista & Chocolate Maker, Founder Andinos Bistro (Mérida)
The most incredible moment of 2017 for me was creating our (cafe's) first chocolate bar -- from the bean. It's such a marvelous experience to make it this way.
I'm so very grateful to be able to work directly with cacao farmers, especially those of the Sur del Lago region, where you can find some of the finest specialty/fine flavor cacao in the world. Even considering the current political climate of my country, these producers have shown an immense dedication and interest in improving their post-harvest processing practices.
Thanks to the newfound interest in the bean to bar movement and continued respect for Venezuelan cacao, I'm looking forward to a 2018 that is full of new projects, both within Venezuela and outside of it. I believe the industry can expect much more, and even better results -- we are in such a unique time of culture and consciousness, where every day we must work to be better and better. How lucky we are that our work revolves around the food of the Gods!
El mejor momento en 2017 fue hacer nuestra primera barra bean to bar, esta ha sido una de la mas maravillosa experiencia. Lo que mas agradezco es poder trabajar de la mano con el productor de cacao, especialmente los productores de la Zona del Sur del Lago, donde encuentras de los cacaos extrafinos del mundo y pese a las dificultades de mi país estos productores han mostrado un inmenso interés en hacerle una mejor post cosecha a sus cacaos.
El 2018 me espera repleto de nuevos proyectos dentro y fuera de Venezuela, gracias al interés que genera nuestro cacao y el gran trabajo que se esta haciendo al momento de hacer chocolates bean to bar. La industria en 2018 espera aun mas y mejores resultados, estamos en una era de conciencia que nos lleva a esforzarnos cada día para ser mejores, que suerte poder hacerlo con el preciado alimento de los Dioses.
Instagram @andinosbistrocafe & @asmiriamroa
THANK YOU for reading! If you support #womeninchocolate please share this post. If you're a woman in cacao/chocolate (from the farm to the writer's room) please add yourself to this document; https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WRRCN6jeel-Doxnr-mnbhr4idrBbzIKwszjNBycj0P0/edit?usp=sharing