Chocolate Naive is a specialty bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Vilnius, Lithuania. Chocolate Naive has won several awards and Domantas was recently named 2017’s Chocolate Maker of the Year by Chocolate Uplift. After being a fan of Chocolate Naive’s bars, and communicating through direct messaging, I was pleased to met Domantas Užpalis in person at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA. Domantas is great at giving complete, one- on-one, attention which is sometimes rare these days. Even more recently I had the chance to interview him.
Domantas Užpalis of Chocolate Naive with Victoria Cooksey at the Northwest Chocolate Festival November 2017
Victoria Cooksey: How has your work with craft chocolate changed you? What changes have you seen in the craft chocolate industry since you started Chocolate Naive?
Domantas Užpalis: My former background is with IT and urban city development – nothing to do with food. So jumping into chocolate was quite a change and it did change everything. I have no official culinary education although I was always interested in what we consume and where our food comes from. I was and still am a proponent of the slow food movement and this is where it all started. My first encounter with slow food concept was through the making and selling of fresh farm-made dairy products and then I slowly shifted towards more sophisticated produce – chocolate. It has been almost 8 years since I became fully engaged with this multilayered product. Continue reading “Interview with Domantas Užpalis of Chocolate Naive with Victoria Cooksey”
If you are visiting Seattle, WA and want to know the best spots for chocolate and desserts then check out Jessica Tupper, the Seattle Dessert Geek. Between Jessica’s website, YouTube channel and Instagram account you will find a ton of useful information and dessert recommendations.
And now for the interview:
Jessica Tupper, the Seattle Dessert Geek
Victoria Cooksey: What inspired you to focus on desserts?
Jessica Tupper: Allergies! Well, kind of.
I started blogging way back in 2011, and back then I was covering more general stuff. (The first major food event I covered was Tales of the Cocktail). I took a break to graduate from grad school and when I got out I knew I wanted a niche. Thing was, when I was covering, all food my sensitivities had been making things tough. As in, I can’t eat raw tomatoes, cilantro, or be around any kind of cooked eggs. Makes it slightly hard to cover brunches out here. Continue reading “Interview with Jessica Tupper, the Seattle Dessert Geek with Victoria Cooksey”
Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate. This time we find out Shawn’s thoughts on how chocolate flavors change over time, Chocolate University, what chocolate means to him and more!
Need to catch up? Read Part 1 here:
And now for Part 2!
Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate
Victoria Cooksey: How does pressing your own cocoa butter from the same beans used to make your chocolate affect the flavor versus buying/using other cocoa butter?
Shawn Askinosie: The way this works in FDA packaging land, labeling land, is that, let’s say we have a 70% chocolate. Well, it’s 70% cocoa mass, and in our case it’s 30% sugar. The FDA doesn’t require the separation of the numbers between cocoa butter, or they don’t require a statement of the percent of cocoa butter as it relates to cocoa mass, they just say if there’s cocoa butter, then to list that in the ingredients; and so we often don’t know how much cocoa butter is in addition. Now let’s say we have, not just my chocolate bar, but anybody’s; and if there is cocoa butter added then it will absolutely impact the flavor if you’ve got cocoa beans and sugar which is added to enhance the mouth-feel of the chocolate and give it a smoother profile. Well it would be like saying the salad dressing that I’m putting on my wonderful salad of fresh produce that I bought at the farmer’s market down the street wouldn’t impact the flavor of the salad; well of course it would. It’s an ingredient in the salad. I mean, think about it. If we’re taking liquor from those same beans we just roasted that we are going to make that same chocolate with, now we’re making cocoa butter with that liquor; it’s going to have flavor components of that crop of beans, so it can’t not impact the flavor, so it’s important to us. We’ve always done it. Continue reading “Interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Part 2 with Victoria Cooksey”
Shawn Askinosie has been making craft chocolate for over a decade now, but he was originally a criminal defense lawyer and back in 2005 Shawn switched to bean-to-bar chocolate making. Askinosie Chocolate is located in Springfield, Missouri. This bean-to-bar chocolate factory sources 100% of their beans directly from the farmers with Shawn Askinoise making frequent trips right to the source of the beans in Ecuador, Tanzania, and the Philippines.
I recently got to have an amazing conversation with Shawn Askinoise for the purpose of this interview. Despite being a bit under the weather, Shawn was extremely generous with his time. I could have asked him a 1,000 questions, but did my best to limit them down to a two-part blog interview. Shawn Askinosie has such a positive approach to life, is involved in several projects to truly make a difference in children lives (more on that in part 2), has a huge depth of knowledge of craft chocolate and all that is involved with it and still somehow manages to remain extremely humble at the same time.
And now for the interview Part 1:
Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Continue reading “Interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Part 1 by Victoria Cooksey”
Michel Cluizel is a French chocolate making business that was started in 1948. I’ve been enjoying Michel Cluizel chocolate for several years so I am extra excited to bring you this interview with Jacques Dahan the President of Michel Cluizel USA.
A special thank you to Estelle Tracy, 37 Chocolates
, for the introduction that made this interview possible.
Jacques Dahan President of Michel Cluizel USA
Continue reading “Interview with Jacques Dahan President of Michel Cluizel USA/Noble Ingredients, Ltd.”
Mackenzie Rivers’ skills are as varied as her Map Chocolate is creative. She has been a Grand Canyon river raft guide, a writer, a bean-to-bar consultant, has had an apprenticeship at Chocolate Alchemy, and is winner of two Academy of Chocolate Awards in 2017 and so much more.
I personally have always enjoyed the lovely wrappers she chooses for each bar, the quality of the bars, her creative ingredients for Map Chocolate bars and hearing about the inspirations behind each bar. In my mind I think of Mackenzie as a bean whisperer because she seems to be able to take an idea for how she wants a bar to be and then gets the beans to bring forth the flavors from out of those beans and/or imagine the perfect inclusions to match the beans, all to create the chocolate taste experience that she desires.
And now, the lovely inside and out of Mackenzie Rivers:
Mackenzie Rivers of Map Chocolate Continue reading “Interview with Mackenzie Rivers of Map Chocolate Co.”
In 1998 the first officially labeled Amedei bars became available and since then just looking at Amedei’s packaging evokes feelings of luxury. Those who know anything about bean-to-bar chocolate list multiple Amedei bars such as Porcelana, Chuao, and Amedei 9, and more in their tasting repertoire. Today’s interview is with Amedei’s founder Cecilia Tessieri, maitre chocolatier. So sit back, imagine yourself in Italy, taste a piece of Amedei chocolate, and enjoy the read:
Cecilia Tessieri Founder of Amedei Continue reading “Interview with Cecilia Tessieri, Founder of Amedei”
This week I’m jumping across the pond once more so to speak, to interview Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolates; the first bean-to-bar maker in Manchester, England. Dormouse makes micro-batches of craft chocolate that skip the machines for a rarely done hand-tempering of the chocolate on marble.
Dormouse was the very first monthly chocolate subscription I ever signed up for, and did I mention they just picked up three more Academy of Chocolate Awards in 2017-including a gold for their Guatemala 51.5% milk chocolate bar? Congrats!
Pic of Karen and Isobel of Dormouse chocolate Continue reading “Interview with Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolates”
Dom Ramsey is both the founder and bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker at Damson Chocolate in London, England. Dom is an Academy of Chocolate Awards judge of the filled chocolates category and author of the book Chocolate: Indulge Your Inner Chocoholic. Dom was also a co-founder of Cocoa Runners and World Chocolate Guide. He is also a founder and editor of Chocablog (http://www.chocablog.com/).
I’ve had a chance to try several Damson Chocolate bars and I highly recommend them! Lately requests for recommendations on bars made from beans from the Philippines have been popping up on Instagram, so I suggest trying Damson’s 70% Philippines Kablon Farms bar if you can find it.
Dom Ramsey Founder & Chocolate Maker of Damson Chocolate Continue reading “Interview with Dom Ramsey Founder & Chocolate Maker of Damson Chocolate”
David Castellan and Cynthia Leung of Soma Chocolatemaker at Slow Move Picnic
Soma Chocolatemaker is a craft chocolate maker located in Toronto, Canada that was founded by David Castellan and Cynthia Leung. This interview focuses on answers given by Cynthia Leung.
I’ve had the pleasure of devouring many of Soma Chocolatemaker bars. I first discovered Soma when Ecole Chocolat posted a picture of Soma’s Dark Side of the Mug drinking chocolate on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ecolechocolat/?hl=en) and I knew I had to have it! So I placed my first Soma order, and the rest is history.
Throughout this interview you will find pictures of just a few of the Soma bars I’ve had concluding with their Milk Old School bar which (spoiler alert) tied for first place in the 2016 Dark Matters Chocolate Awards.
Chocolate makers are extremely busy people, so a huge thank you to Cynthia for taking the time from her busy schedule to answer my questions. I am truly grateful, and look forward to seeking out all of Soma’s future creations!
Soma Chocolatemaker Dark Side of the Mug Drinking Chocolate
Victoria Cooksey: What was your first experience with fine chocolate, and what made you decided to turn your passion for chocolate into a full time career?
Cynthia Leung: We were reading Maricel’s first edition of her book, “Taste of Chocolate” at home and eating a bar of Domori’s Madagascar. In combination this was our portal into the world of cacao. Continue reading “Interview of Cynthia Leung of Soma Chocolatemaker with Victoria Cooksey”