Interview with Paul John Kearins of Chocolatasm

Paul John Kearins is both a chocolatier and pastry chef, and if you follow his Instagram stories (you know who you are!) he is a bit of a comedian as well.  Paul works at the Purple Feather Cafe in Provincetown and runs his own chocolate business, Chocolatasm. (Let’s just say you “need” his buttermilk bonbons in your life! One of my personal favorite bonbons of all time!). 

I’ve actually been wanting to interview Paul for almost a year and a half, but the timing never seemed right until now. Good people are worth the wait and what a pleasure it’s been to interview Paul officially after our long-time online/direct message interactions!

Did I mention Paul uses craft chocolate in his bonbons and bars? Find out how he started using craft chocolate in his creations, tips on pairing chocolate with wine, how a growing social media following impacts his life and more in my interview with a true flavor master, Paul John Kearins. 

Paul John Kearins of Chocolatasm

Victoria Cooksey: What is your first memory of chocolate? 

Paul John Kearins: My first memory of chocolate was an Easter egg I received as a small child. It was a milk chocolate egg filled with chocolate buttons and I remember there  being the smell of the carton and the chocolate combined. I can conjure that nostalgia just by thinking about it. The carton revealed part of the Easter egg wrapped in deep purple foil and I remember opening the foil ever so gently and eating the buttons and then reassembling the two halves of the egg and re-wrapping it in the foil. I guess I didn’t want the magic to end and that is something I still have to some degree. Continue reading “Interview with Paul John Kearins of Chocolatasm”

Interview with Nicholas Silverman Distributor for Diego’s Artisan Chocolate

Diego’s Artisan Chocolate is a craft chocolate maker located in Guatemala. The chocolate is very fudge-like in texture and comes rolled in colorful tissue paper.  (My favorite is the one with whole coffee beans).  At Diego’s Chocolate everything is done by hand from roasting the beans in very tiny batches, hand peeling the beans and even coloring the labels by hand.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Nicolas Silverman, who represents and distributes Diego’s Chocolate in the USA, at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle this past November, 2018.  

Victoria Cooksey: How long has the Diego family been making chocolate?

Nicolas Silverman: Diego and his family have been making chocolate for almost 30 years. While the recipe and packaging went through some changes in the early years, it has been more or less the same for decades. In the past year, we opened our own retail store in San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala, where customers can come learn about chocolate making, buy our products, and even try making chocolate themselves. We are very excited about being able to welcome visitors – please come and see us!

Continue reading “Interview with Nicholas Silverman Distributor for Diego’s Artisan Chocolate”

Interview with Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate

Hans Westerink is a craft chocolate maker located in South Bend, Indiana.  I have been lucky enough to have been able purchase his bean-to-bar chocolate in November at the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA.  In my opinion, Violet Sky Chocolate features one of the loveliest chocolate bar packaging which is so colorful and often shiny which really makes it stand out, and Hans often uses unique inclusions in his bars as well.  Read on to find out more about Hans!

Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate with his wife Alison Continue reading “Interview with Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate”

Interview with Bo San Cheung & Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao with Victoria Cooksey

The once London-based bean-to-bar chocolate maker, Beau Cacao, has recently made a big move!  Known for using cacao from Malaysia, having super shiny chocolate bars, gorgeous packaging and the “Chocolate is Changing” motto, where and why did they move and how does this effect their chocolate making?  What does “Chocolate is Changing” mean?  Thanks to Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao you will find out all this and more below!

Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao Continue reading “Interview with Bo San Cheung & Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao with Victoria Cooksey”

Interview with John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy with Victoria Cooksey

Most likely, if you have spent time in the craft/specialty chocolate world you have heard of, or often times had assistance, knowledge and overall mentoring from the one-and-only John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy. John’s very first blog post on the Chocolate Alchemy website was posted on October 1, 2003.  Now that’s a lot of chocolate making, experimenting and experience! Back when it was thought that there was no way chocolate could be made at home John Nanci thankfully didn’t listen and instead paved the way for people to make both chocolate at home as well as start up their own craft/specialty chocolate business.  John continues to share his knowledge through his Ask The Alchemist posts. It  just so happens that John is also a FCIA 2017 Lifetime Achievement award winner.

And now for the interview.

John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy Continue reading “Interview with John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy with Victoria Cooksey”

Interview with Domantas Užpalis of Chocolate Naive with Victoria Cooksey

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”

Interview with Jessica Tupper, the Seattle Dessert Geek 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”

Interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Part 1 by 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”

Interview with Mackenzie Rivers of Map Chocolate Co.

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.”