The founding members of the CCMA at their first meeting: (left to right) Art Pollard, Amano Artisan Chocolate; Shawn Askinosie, Askinosie Chocolate; Alex Whitmore, Taza Chocolate; Clark Goble, Amano Artisan Chocolate; Steve DeVries, DeVries Chocolate; Alan McClure, Patric Chocolate.

Chocolatiers 'craft' new organization

While meeting at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York last year, five chocolate makers realized they had more in common than they thought. It was this realization that led them to form the Craft Chocolate Makers of America.

After the bean-to-bar chocolatiers had met at the Summer Fancy Food Show, they were all invited to attend and exhibit at Slow Food Nation in San Francisco. It was there they found themselves elbow-to-elbow in a line talking to attendees about their chocolate creations. During their four days together at Slow Food Nation, the founders of the Craft Chocolate Makers of America (CCMA) - Art Pollard and Clark Goble, Amano Artisan Chocolate; Shawn Askinosie, Askinosie Chocolate; Alex Whitmore, Taza Chocolate; Steve DeVries, DeVries Chocolate; and Alan McClure, Patric Chocolate - would get together between sessions to discuss what they wanted in an organization for craft chocolatiers.
“I think we could all tell from the beginning that we had so many issues in common that we really needed to formalize our group,” says Shawn Askinosie, Askinosie Chocolate.
Each of the chocolate makers involved in the group commits to making bean-to-bar chocolate using traditional methods. Their experience and skill also enables them to communicate better with each other regarding cocoa supply, chocolate quality, technical issues and promoting craft chocolate making. The goal of the CCMA is to help educate the public and retailers about craft chocolate while promoting honesty in chocolate making and selling, and quality over quantity.
“I think that as a group, we can have a great effect on promoting awareness of craft chocolate instead of trying to do it individually,” says Askinosie. “We all have our own individual stories and our own narrative as to how we got into chocolate making and what separates us as chocolate makers; but together as a group we can accomplish so much more promoting craft chocolate to America and around the world.”
The organization hopes to teach other chocolate makers, retailers and anyone who eats chocolate about the value in craft chocolate. For instance, craft chocolate making requires the sourcing of quality cocoa beans, working with farmers and designing special equipment. It also creates American jobs that cannot be exported, according to the group.
“People are beginning to realize that [not all chocolate is] the same,” says Alex Whitmore, Taza Chocolate. “Chocolate has many differences in its manufacture and how it’s farmed and a number of different things that contribute to the final flavor and the final product that is consumed.”
And while the CCMA is still young, it hopes to acquire many new members in order to fulfill its goals.
“As soon as we grow, we’ll be able to have more meaning and leverage in creating this education that we want to engender in the food community as well as in the community of chocolate consumers in general,” says Whitmore. “We’re very much looking forward to adding new members in 2009 and we’d love to hear feedback and generate a discussion amongst the chocolate industry.”
To become a member of the CCMA, chocolate makers must have had a bean-to-bar product on the market for at least one year, conduct business with honesty and be a small (grinding between two metric tons and 200 metric tons annually), independent company (less than 25% of the company owned by non-craft chocolate making companies) using traditional methods (making bean-to-bar chocolate in one facility, using fermented cacao, batch roasting, winnowing to remove as much cocoa shell as possible and/or tempering and depositing chocolate).

Recchiuti named U.S. Valrhona Ambassador

Michael Recchiuti, chocolatier and co-founder of San Francisco-based Recchiuti Confections, was named the first U.S. Valrhona Ambassador. In turn, Valrhona, a leader in rare origin cacao, created a custom blend chocolate to appear in a new Recchiuti Confections 64% Semisweet Bar and enrobed Recchiuti products.
The new Semisweet chocolate bars are available at Peet’s Coffee & Tea stores, online at and at Recchiuti Confections’ retail store located in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace.
As the U.S. Valrhona Ambassador, Recchiuti will develop recipes using Valrhona products and teach professionals and consumers through demonstrations and classes.
“Partnering with Valrhona has been a great experience and they have been extremely supportive in helping me create this fabulous custom blend,” said Recchiuti. “At the end of the day, it’s about great chocolate and confections and continuing to wow and please our customers. This unique partnership lets me do just that – and then some!”

NETZSCH hosts 'bean to bar' seminar

NETZSCH Fine Particle Technology will host a “bean to bar” chocolate seminar on February 23-27, 2009 for chocolatiers in its custom chocolate kitchen. Chocolatiers will use NETZSCH’s ChocoEasy50 chocolate-making machine to create milk and dark chocolate while learning about the newest grinding, refining and conching technologies.
In addition, chocolatiers will learn about factors that affect the taste of chocolate, the cost of making chocolate (including supplies and a chocolate manufacturing facility) and using raw materials to produce batches of chocolate.
NETZSCH’s technical director Harry Way and internal chocolate consultant Ted Hanneman will teach the class alongside instructor Dr. Carl Waltz of United Cocoa Processor.

Symrise invests in new plants, technology

Symrise, a global supplier of fragrances, flavorings, raw materials and active ingredients for the food industry, announced it has expanded its Vienna site by adding new offices and laboratories for the sales, category management, development and applications technology departments. The expansion is focused on developing culinary concepts for fat-based products. The gourmet kitchen added to the plant allows clients to shorten the development time before new product launches. The applications technology department focuses on sweets, snack items and beverages for southeastern Europe.
Additionally, Symrise has invested in a new pilot spray bed dryer plant for flavor encapsulation. The pilot plant is located in Singapore, where it serves as the company’s Asia-Pacific regional headquarters.
The company has also added spray-bed drying to its Brazilian site. Symrise is currently investing in a new plant at its corporate headquarters in Holzminden, Germany and plans to expand its encapsulation services in the United States.

Almond Board sponsors 2009 World Pastry Cup

For the first time, the Almond Board of California is a global sponsor of the 2009 World Pastry Cup. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, this year’s World Pastry Cup will be the first year almonds are featured in competition. Specifically, they will appear in two out of the four competition categories, including the frozen fruit dessert and the plated, chocolate dessert. The Almond Board will also help unveil a 20th anniversary dessert, in which 30 previous World Pastry Cup competition winners will create. Representing the spirit of the contest and the latest trends in patisserie, the dessert is made of layers of chocolate mousse, almond praline, fruit with chopped almonds, a chocolate biscuit and spice. The dessert will debut in France and be re-created in patisseries and restaurants around the world.

The 2009 World Pastry Cup competition will take place in Lyon, France at EUREXPO from Jan. 25-26, 2009.