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.
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.
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:
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:
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!
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 (https://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.
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?
Note: This interview was first published in my original Blogspot site on 3-24-17.
I’m excited to be sharing another interview with all of you chocoholics out there. This time I interview Lauren Heineck who makes bean to bar chocolates called WKND Chocolate out of Denver, Colorado. She also produces a podcast celebrating women in chocolate titled Well Tempered which may be found on both her website, and now on iTunes. Lauren also promotes strong community ties with those in all aspects of the chocolate industry from farmers, chocolate makers, suppliers, and chocolate reviewers (like yours truly), and more. Needless to say, she is one busy, and creative lady!
Note: This interview first appeared in my original Blogspot blog on 3-2-17.
Estelle Tracy of 37 Chocolates
I’m very excited to bring you this interview with Estelle Tracy of 37 Chocolates. Estelle is a food writer, a chocolate educator, and so much more. She is a wonderful supporter of small craft chocolate makers, a valuable resource of chocolate information delivered in an approachable way, and always has encouraging words for people in all aspects of the craft chocolate world.
Note: This interview was first published in my original Blogspot site on 2-3-17.
I’m very please to bring you this interview with Josef Zotter of Zotter Chocolate.
A special thank you to Barbara Dolleschal of Zotter Chocolates US LLC for facilitating this interview, providing some of the information for the interview, and for the translation work!
Note: My questions had to be translated, and then the answers were translated back, so please keep that in mind when reading this post.
Zotter Chocolates is a bean to bar, organic, fair trade chocolate manufacture located in Austria. I purchased Zotter Chocolate for the very first time at The Chocolate Project in Victoria, B.C. in September of 2016, and then I re-stocked my supply at the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA last November 2016 where I was also lucky enough to meet Barbara Dolleschal of Zotter Chocolates US LLC, and thus the idea for an interview was born!
Josef Zotter, Zotter Chocolate Photo Credit:(c) Zotter Chocolate