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Chocolate Masters Hangout #3: The Rise of Hawaii Grown Cacao

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Published on Aug 8, 2013

The Rise of Hawaii Grown Cacao.
Chocolate Masters Hangout.
Originally broadcast live on Aug 8, 2013.

Featuring:

Melanie Boudar, Sweet Paradise Chocolatier, http://sweetparadisechocolate.com/
Dave Elliott, Madre Chocolate, http://madrechocolate.com
Seneca Klassen, Lonohana Estate Chocolate, http://lonohana.com/
Derek Lanter, Waialua Estate Coffee and Cacao, http://www.waialuaestate.com
Moderator: Sarah Hartman, Ecole Chocolat Graduate, Brazil
Producer: Robert Ouimet, BigSnit Media http://robertouimet.com

Over the last 8 years since Ecole Chocolat first sponsored the Hawaii Cacao Symposium in 2005, the Hawaii Cacao industry has grown steadily each year. Its still a tiny but important segment of the Hawaii agriculture as Hawaii is the only US state that can grow cacao. The Hawaiian Islands are just on the edge of the "belt" around the world - 20 degrees North or South of the Equator - where cacao can be grown.

In this Chocolate Masters Hangout we bring together 4 of the pivotal members of the newly formed Hawaii Chocolate and Cacao industry. Our four panelists represent the scope of the Hawaii cacao industry: Derek, cacao grower whose beans are processed off-island by necessity, Melanie, chocolatier adding cacao grower to her list of accomplishments, Dave, artisan chocolate maker using Hawaii cacao beans, Seneca, mainland chocolatier turned cacao grower and chocolate maker.

The Hawaii cacao industry is in its infancy and these four very knowledgeable "Kama'ainas" will discuss the challenges and opportunities that the cacao farming and processing is facing - currently and in the future. If you love chocolate and Hawaii you will find this to be a very enlightening and encouraging conversation.

About our Panelists:

Melanie Boudar is owner/chocolatier of Sweet Paradise Chocolatier on Maui whose love of chocolate developed during her career as a diamond buyer, traveling regularly to Belgium. Her chocolates have consistently won awards at the Kona/ Big Island Chocolate Festival and was the Edible Hawaiian Islands 2010 Local Hero Food Artisan Award. December 2012 marked a new chapter for Sweet Paradise and Melanie with the purchase of 7 acres on the Hana Hwy in Haiku for farming cacao. She now adds cacao farmer to her talents and currently has several hundred trees in a greenhouse.

Dave Elliott is co-owner of Madre Chocolate on O'ahu. He and partner Nat Bletter purchase dry, fermented beans directly from farmers and cooperatives. They then roast and process the beans in small batches to craft their chocolate bars. They rightly believe that fermentation is a vital step to bring out the complex chocolate flavors and fruity notes in the cacao bean and say "The amazing thing about making chocolate in Hawai'i is that we can work closely with cacao farmers to dial in the fermentation and drying process for great tasting chocolate. Direct trade, where we get to know every farmer we buy cacao from, goes well beyond fair trade even when we buy beans in other cacao growing regions."

Seneca Klassen is partner, along with Lawrence Boone, of Lonohana Estate Chocolate on O'ahu. Seneca and Lawrence grew up in a small farming town in Central California and have always had farming in their blood. Lonohana is the result of the two families' dream to create a vertically integrated chocolate company. They propagated cacao seedlings, planted the first trees in 2009. Seneca farms the 14 acres of cacao by hand on the North Shore where he harvests the fruit, ferments and dries the beans, then hand crafts small batches of chocolate bars every few weeks at their factory in Honolulu. He hopes to further the awareness of Hawaiian cacao on and outside the Islands.

Derek Lanter is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Waialua Estate Coffee and Cacao on O'ahu, founding President of the Hawaii Chocolate and Cacao Association and is also in charge of processing and quality control at the Waialua mill. Waialua cacao was first planted in 1999 on former sugarcane lands on the Wahiawa Plateau overlooking Oahu's famous North Shore. The 20 acre cacao orchard, which was reinvigorated in 2004, is situated at sea level along the banks of the Kaukonahua river, near Waialua town. The cacao is harvested, fermented and dried at the mill then shipped to Guittard Chocolate Co. for processing - as the mill does not have the equipment to process that volume of cacao on island.

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