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57 minutes | a year ago
Interview Episode 15 – Luisa Abram
At the 2019 Northwest Chocolate Festival, I caught up with Luisa Abram. We found a (mostly) quiet spot to discuss adventuring through the Amazon rainforest on boats and on foot, making new and high-quality milk powder, discovering new locales with great new cacao, making new bars, monkeys, and more! Luisa is such a dynamic and fascinating young woman who has already made an impact in the world of fine chocolate, and she has so much more she wants to share with all of us.
57 minutes | a year ago
Inside the Chocolate Society – 2
Join in my conversation with Julia and Kelley – recent members of the Utah Chocolate Society – as we talk about finding fine chocolate, finding chocolate nerds, and experiencing our legendary tournament for their first time! Utah has had great chocolate and a fun scene for a long time, so hear these fine people’s story of discovery and chocolate camaraderie.
60 minutes | 2 years ago
Interview Episode 14: John Nanci
Back in November, 2018, I was able to find John Nanci. Like a lion, I separated him from the masses, except then we sat and talked – for an hour! John started Chocolate Alchemy years and years ago to share what he found out about chocolate – especially with regards to making it. The chances are that if you have ever looked into making it yourself, you have stumbled across his work. I fist encountered it in 2009, dumb-founded that such a repository of all things chocolate-making was out in the open. Sit back, relax, grab a bar of chocolate, and enjoy an intriguing look into the life and mind of someone truly dedicated to fantastic chocolate!
58 minutes | 2 years ago
Inside the Chocolate Society 1: The Tournament
The annual tournament may just be the highlight of all the Utah Chocolate Society does. Every year we start with 64 of the world’s best chocolate bars, and every year we subject ourselves to the toil of randomly pairing, tasting, and voting on them to have them compete and move on or drop out of our single-elimination tournament. It involves 9 meetings between February and April culminating in the April ChocSoc birthday extravaganza. Taste buds are overwhelmed, hearts are broken, senses are delighted. And we come up with the one… Setting out bars for a past tournament In this episode – the first in a new sub-series highlighting the mechanics and activities of the Utah Chocolate Society – several ChocSoc members and I sat down to tell tales and share memories of our own chocolate tournament experiences. Join us as we recount some of the fun and learning and tastiness of tournaments past! There is so much chocolate to prep!
29 minutes | 2 years ago
Interview Episode 13: Felipe of Diogo Vaz
I got to meet Felipe and William of Diogo Vaz at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle back in November. Felipe and I sat down to talk chocolate and his background. He changed career paths dramatically 5 years ago to leave the office, corporate world and work in food, and again only months ago to dive headlong into chocolate production. Diogo Vaz has their own plantations on Sao Tome, and their production facility is only minutes away. Listen in on a fascinating story of a unique approach to chocolate!
34 minutes | 2 years ago
Interview Episode 12: Lars Moller of Ingemann Fine Cocoa
Lars Moller of Ingemann Fine Cocoa occupies a niche in the cacao supply chain that is rather unlike the vast majority. Ingemann buys cacao from farmers in Nicaragua, and they work the fermentation and drying of the beans – with an unheard-of level of sophistication and data to provide a variety of flavor and chemical profiles. Along the way, they supply a guaranteed path to market, and secure minimum pricing (to allow even higher) to 1,000 farms. Lars has a cool story, and I am excited to share it with you!
37 minutes | 2 years ago
Interview Episode 11 – Bryan Graham of Fruition Chocolate
Bryan Graham and his wife Dahlia started Fruition Chocolate amidst a fascination with the mystique and magnetism of chocolate making drawing them in. Over the years, they have sourced great cacao and experimented with new approaches to single origin chocolate, inclusions, and confections. In this interview, Bryan tells his story of how he discovered food, decided to become a chef, and found a passion for making chocolate that would define his career. Fruition Chocolate has a special distinction among chocolate makers of the world – they are one of only 4 chocolate makers to win the Utah Chocolate Society Annual Chocolate Tournament. Two years ago, their Hispaniola bar rose to the top of a field of 64 world-class bars in a blind-tasting, single-elimination tournament. No small feat!
36 minutes | 2 years ago
Interview Episode 10 – Harish Manoj Kumar of Regal Chocolates
Harish Manoj Kumar is the head farmer for Regal Chocolates where they grow cacao in southern India. In this interview, Harish tells us his story of beginning to grow cacao and learning how to greatly improve his family farm’s biological health and the quality of cacao they produce. Amelonado varietals of cacao have long been associated with cheap and poor quality beans, but there has been amazing progress in their quality when the trees and fruit and seeds are treated well, and Regal Chocolates has found beautiful flavors with amelonado beans along with Trinitario and Criollo. The Solstice India bar uses Harish’s beans, and that bar just won the Northwest Chocolate Festival’s Gold Award for Dark Chocolate Bars! Harish tells stories of the wildlife which threaten his farms; reducing pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals his farms use; improving yields of his various crops though symbiosis rather than chemicals and more. Harish has had to learn so much through asking people, receiving painful feedback, and trial and error, but his quick (relatively speaking!) progress manifests his commitment and intelligent discoveries. Not just anyone can go from zero to world-class in cacao growing in a decade!
35 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 9 – Domantas Uzpalis of Chocolate Naive
Domantas Uzpalis, the man behind Chocolate Naive, is one of the most inspiring people I know in chocolate. His approach to chocolate-making is creative and thoughtful and fresh and new. But he is not merely jaded with the status quo. He wants to personally create and provide new ideas and products in the workd of fine chocolate, and he does so terrifically! Listen in to our conversation as the Northwest Chocolate Festival 2018 wound down (I have many more episodes from last weekend to come) as we discuss his roots and his singular perspective on the world of craft, expressive chocolate.
73 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 8 – Matt Caputo
Matt Caputo is a longtime friend, and really a driving force behind my adventures in and passion for chocolate. The store started by his dad is where I have hosted the Chocolate Society from the beginning, and Matt personally introduced me to most of the chocolate world. Matt curates one of the greatest fine chocolate collections in this or any country, and his passion for fine foods, flavors, and practices drives the entire food culture in Utah.
44 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 7: Emily Koons of Cacao Review
Emily and Dayton Koons began Cacao Review as an Instagram chocolate review project. They take beautiful pictures and review wonderful bars, but last year they launched their first chocolate bar collaboration collection featuring bars from some of the world’s top chocolate makers. This year, they have upped the ante with a further flung range of makers making super-limited bars (200 bars – tops!) with some cool accoutrements to make the collection all the more special. Listen in to how it came to be (and how 3 of the bars taste)!
74 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 6: AJ Wentworth of Chocolate Conspiracy
Steve, Mike, Erika, and AJ of Chocolate Conspiracy AJ founded Chocolate Conspiracy 8 years ago, and we met shortly thereafter. He is a fun character, and we have talked a lot over the years about all things chocolate. Chocolate Conspiracy has a very unique approach to chocolate making in that they use unroasted cacao and sweeten it with honey local to Utah/Wyoming. AJ’s background is diverse, and his style is inimitable. It is a little bit of a shame that I wasn’t recording through the entire conversation that led up to officially beginning the podcast interview!
19 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 5: Harper Macaw
I was able to sit down with Sarah Hartman of Harper Macaw last November at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, Washington. Sarah and her husband, Colin, are using Brazilian cacao to craft chocolate that is bold and fruity, and they are striving to help the rain forests from whence comes their cacao. Sarah is originally from Brazil, and her love and commitment run deep. And through it all, you can hear the bustle of the festival as it was wrapping up!
68 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 4: Solstice Chocolate
DeAnn Wallin of Solstice Chocolate has a unique style that is quintessentially American and bold and fun. Solstice Chocolate typifies the sorts of qualities that makes American chocolate unique from European bars. Her chocolate is bold and bright and expressive, and she is a blast to talk with (or grab midnight Mexican food with)! Join us as we talk about each of Solstice’s bars and the beans from whence they come, and the flavor profiles that define them. Great chocolate awaits!
44 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 3.2 – Volker Lehmann Part 2
In Part 1, Volker tells the story of his discovery of cacao that had been lost to Westerners – but was still known by the people in the jungle of Bolivia. In Part 2, we talk about the struggle of convincing the chocolate industry to try such unusual and small cacao beans. Volker labored for years to prove to people that the cacao from his wild forest trees – that violated industry standards for size – could make exceptional chocolate. Now his cacao is a hot commodity! Listen in to his very human story of struggle, and success, and striving for yet greater excellence.
38 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 3.1 – Volker Lehmann Part 1
Volker is a brilliant and fascinating man who, after growing up in Germany, traveled the world in search of adventure and helping people. Join in our conversation as we discuss how he discovered and came to purchase the land whereon grows the most pure cacao varietal currently known. His stories take us from cold European winters to African savannah with cows mingled with giraffes to the tropics in the Caribbean and South America.
31 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 2: Hazel Lee
Last November, I was able to sit down with Hazel in the midst of the hubbub of the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle. Hazel is a HARD-core chocolate fan, and she is a member of the Academy of Chocolate, among other distinctions. Our focus is in talking about her beautiful, endlessly helpful, and intriguing chocolate tasting map. This is a poster designed to help people articulate what it is they taste and smell and experience with fine chocolate, and it is amazing. My 11-year-old daughter was listing off accurate flavor note after note using the map. Hazel is a fun, all-around incredible human, and she is delightful to share a conversation with! Enjoy! Check out her website, with the option of ordering your own tasting map here: http://hazeljlee.com/taste-with-colour/
50 minutes | 3 years ago
Interview Episode 1: Ritual Chocolate
Listen in to my conversation with Anna and Robbie of Ritual chocolate, 2 incredible people who have a truly singular vision about their ideal of fine chocolate. They discuss their backstory in beginning their company with attendent trials and stresses, and their perserverance to make it where they are today – one of the US’s preeminent chocolate makers.
12 minutes | 3 years ago
How to Taste Chocolate
This second installment briefly discusses how to engage your senses to really experience chocolate. Did you know that you have WAY more than 5 senses? Or that tasting food engages more than just your tongue? So much of how we sense our food is beyond mere taste, and engaging the way your body and mind experience can make a great thing even better!
27 minutes | 3 years ago
Intro to Chocolate Fascination
Welcome to Chocolate Fascination! This podcast is all about fine chocolate. This introduction covers what is fine chocolate, how it is made, and how it differs from mass market chocolate – the likes of which most of us grew up with (even in Europe). Future episodes will discuss every aspect of chocolate from the people behind it, the methods of agriculture and production, the science of tasting, and the cultural element. Especially, we will dive into the stories of the people who bring this magical food to life!
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