I've met a few very stellar people lately, including Patricia Tsai, of ChocoVivo.
I LOVE chocolate, who doesn't? Although I am still learning to love a bitter 85% cacao, I can sure appreciate a good thing when I see it and taste it.
Patricia makes her rich dark chocolate from bean to bar, which only about 18 manufactures in the US do, including Hersey's. She's the real deal....and fun too!
She has plenty of amazing and creative flavors like Coffee & Vanilla bar, and the Shangri-La that uses roasted sesame and goji berries. The Mayan Traditional is a knock out, using guajilla, chipotle morita, pasilla negro, almonds and ceylon cinnamon sticks!
So, I was curious. How does one start to make their own chocolate and create a successful business from scratch? Here's what I found out.
Foodeater: How did you begin making chocolate? Introduction to it?
Patricia: It was a five year journey from idea to product. I was truly inspired by chocolate in Oaxaca, Mexico. I quit my corporate CPA job and went to Oaxaca on a culinary tour and soon decided I wanted to learn to make traditional chocolate using old world Mexican stone ground methods. With no idea what chocolate was all about, here was this great educational trip! So I found a teacher in Mexico who would teach me the process from resources to machinery. Within a week of training I discovered I was conned out of my capital. However, I met a cacao grower during the process. While in a restaurant dining with the woman I was training with, a local man, an acquaintance of hers, joined us for lunch and we began talking about cacao and chocolate manufacturing. Needless to say, my “teacher” was very uncomfortable with it. But, after having already exhausted all my previous resources, an international relationship was born with this man who would become my cacao grower and mentor. This grower, who is a trained engineer, built my first stone grinder.
FoodEater: Do you have any chocolate heros?
Patricia: Scharffen-Berger, although they got bought out my Hershey’s, they were the largest artisanal chocolate maker in the US at the time that introduced Americans to Bean-To-Bar chocolate and helped pave the way for smaller micro-artisanal producers of chocolate that have opened doors for people like me.
FoodEater: Do you have any chocolate advice (for the novice, milk chocolate lover)?
Patricia: I use to be a lover of milk chocolate. Realize that milk chocolate has a lot of sugar inside and is very processed. You aren’t getting the true taste of chocolate from milk chocolate, because it’s masked up by all the other stuff. Start eating dark chocolate that has more sugar and as your palette becomes use to less sugar, start increasing your cacao content. Not all dark chocolate is the same as dark chocolate can have just as much crap as milk. But soon you’ll begin to appreciate the taste of true chocolate.
FoodEater: What markets are you in? Where can you find your product?
Patricia: The link where you can buy product is here and the list of the farmers markets are below:
Tuesday – Culver City: 2 PM – 7 PM, Main Street between Culver & Venice Blvd, 90232
Thursday – Yamashiro Garden Market: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM, 1999 N. Sycamore Ave., Hollywood, 90068
Friday – Venice: 7 AM – 11 AM, Venice Way & Venice Blvd, 90291
Saturday – Playa Vista: 9 AM – 2 PM, 6400 Seabluff Drive (in Playa Vista, across from Home Depot), 90064
Saturday – Torrance: 8 AM – 1 PM, Charles H.Wilson Park, 2200 Crenshaw Blvd, 90503
Sunday – Palos Verdes: 8 AM – 1 PM, Peninsula Shopping Center, Rolling Hills Estates, 90247
Sunday – Mar Vista: 9 AM – 2 PM, 12224 Venice Blvd, 90066
Sunday – Malibu: 10 AM – 3PM, 23519 Civic Center Way, Malibu, CA 90265
Here products are also available Foodzie
Don't settle for bad chocolate!