Friday, September 13, 2013

FOODucation: Cacao

Hey everyone,

Happy Friday!! Patricia Tsai is a chocolate maker who recently opened ChocoVivo in Culver City. She has her own supplier of cacao beans and uses the age old tradition of stone grinding cacao beans to produce chocolate products. Nothing in her store contains milk powder, soy lecithin, or additional cacao butter meaning all her food items are as natural as possible.

Given that National Chocolate Milkshake day was yesterday, September 12, it seems appropriate Patricia is hosting "Frozen Hot Chocolate Nights" through this weekend only (September 12 - 15). If you're interested in checking it out send an RSVP to with the Subject: "Frozen Hot Choco." It costs $20 BUT you get to try the following four items: 75% Cacao, Shangri-La (black sesame + goji berries), Mayan Tradition (Cinnamon + Spicy), Coffee + Vanilla Bean all topped with Organic Strauss Creamery Vanilla Bean Ice Cream!

Here's the link to her website and more info.

Now for the FOODucation! (information based on her website and Ted Talk)

Patrica was on Tedx where she discussed the bitter side of cacao and her journey as a chocolate maker. As with most crops, they have specific environments with which they can grow. Since the cacao bean can only grow 20 degrees North and South of the equator, 70-80% come from Africa. Unfortunately large companies dominating the chocolate industry take advantage of this, without naming businesses and just knowing a few things, it's easy to see why Patricia is an artisan chocolate maker. In Africa, child slavery remains an issue and often times children are sold as slaves to carry bags of cacaos until there are visible signs of injury such as open wounds. (more info on this inhumane labor found here,

Unwilling to compromise her morals, she cares about the way the beans are sourced, the way it is processed and how she can give back to the community. She took the time, 5 years to be exact, to get to know her cacao supplier and understand the process. Patricia wants her customers to understand how she gets her beans and how it is processed to make her products.

ChocoVivo uses techniques that were once practiced by the Mayans and Aztecs, stone grinding. The heat generated by the stone grinding heat and melt the natural cacao butter creating a paste. The outcome is a pure product that has not been adulterated. One of the chocolate bars she produces only has four ingredients: cacao nibs, unrefined cane sugar, black sesame and goji berries.

The result of Patricia's hard work and dedication to chocolate is a business that produces quality products while still being socially conscious.

If you want to watch the Ted Talk here's a link!