Two Makers, Two Seasons, Two News Stories

Hello there, and happy equinox!

gothamandoboloattottos

Summer and fall seem to be dancing together today in Chicago, as warm sunshine mingles with crisp air. As we enter a new season filled with new abundance, two dear craft chocolate maker clients are new at Totto’s Market (which is also new), and, they are in the news!

Gotham Chocolates is a sophisticated bean-to-bar brand by acclaimed chef Ron Paprocki of Michelin-starred Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City. Chef Ron converted a corner of his pastry kitchen into a chocolate manufactory to make pure, clean, flavorful craft chocolate for bars, bonbons, and desserts. Click here to read about Chef Ron’s background and vision; what a coincidence that he and I each lived in Germany for some years. When I first met Ron and tasted his chocolates in NYC a few years ago, I was thrilled with the exquisite precision and beauty of his work, and I’m thrilled with the new Artisan line that he has launched since, using a variety of specialty cacaos!

ÓBOLO Chocolate (the name means gift or small contribution in Spanish) is an inventive bean-to-bar brand by Midwesterner Mark Gerrits who moved to Chile for adventure after college and is still there. He founded his chocolate company in 2013, and ÓBOLO has gained B-Corporation status reflecting standards for social and environmental justice. I tasted the chocolate for the first time last year, and loved its lively use of Peru cacao. This year Mark updated his packaging, bar thickness and mould, and added a new Flavors of Chile line of bars, sharing a confident and unique new presentation in the world of craft chocolate. Click here for a story on the brand’s use of biodynamic Chilean inclusions such as herbs that grow in the Atacama desert or berries from Patagonia.

You can find a selection of Gotham Chocolates at these wonderful upscale retailers: Hannah’s Bretzel, Honeycreeper Chocolate, and Totto’s Market. Find ÓBOLO Chocolate at wonderful upscale Cocoa + Co. and Totto’s Market.

Congratulations to these two elegant and artistic craft chocolate brands as autumn begins in the Northern Hemisphere including in New York for Gotham and here in Chicago, and as spring begins in the Southern Hemisphere including in Santiago for ÓBOLO!

Wishing you a delicious season, whichever one is blowing in where you are,

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

valeriewindycity

Valerie Beck

Chocolate Broker

Sweet Speaker

Founder of the original chocolate tours

Instagram @chocolateuplift

LinkedIn

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

 

Wisconsin event: The Full Chocolate

full-chocolate-graphic

 

Update: here are the slides from my talk on The Full Chocolate: Where Chocolate Comes From and What’s in Your Chocolate, at an exciting and delicious event held August 2, 2019, at amazing Yahara Chocolate in sweet historic Stoughton, Wisconsin! As always, please see the comments section of each slide for the juicy info and video links!

In addition, below are some photos from the event; more are on my Instagram under hashtag #WisconsinAugust2019. Thank you and hope to see you next time!

*****

Hello!

Are you a chocolate lover in the Madison, Wisconsin, area? I’m excited to give a talk on The Full Chocolate — how chocolate goes from bean to bar — with craft chocolate tasting at Yahara Chocolate in Stoughton, WI, Friday 8/2/19 at 7pm, and to host informal tastings there Saturday 8/3/19 from 10am to 3pm!

We’re going to have around 10 different chocolate bars to sample, plus cacao beans, nibs, and pulp! Details are here for Friday, and here for Saturday. Hope to see you there!

20190730_151546
Here is some of the scrumptiousness I’m bringing to Yahara Chocolate for dear Brook, the store owner, who is assembling an amazing collection of craft chocolate, wouldn’t you agree!
IMG_20190727_173159_832
I’m also bringing the outrageously delicious new Mint Brownie bar by Violet Sky Chocolate; Brook selected it at his daughter’s insistence!

Fun side note: my first-year dorm at Harvard College and the town where Yahara Chocolate is located are both called Stoughton! Here are some photos from my return to Stoughton (the dorm) to serve as a Convocation Marshal and welcome the new first-year students last fall (I brought chocolate to that too, for the new students in my old dorm, and for my alumni friends). It’s all connected!

Meanwhile, see you in Stoughton, Wisconsin, if you’re around!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift

craft chocolate promotion

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeriebeck/

Chocolate and Gender

65585875_10217896968310005_8126753662258118656_n

What a blast to give a talk and craft chocolate tasting for the amazing ladies of my Alumnae-i Network of Harvard Women group, at heavenly Hannah’s Bretzel in Chicago!

The head of the Chicago chapter asked if I could speak on chocolate and gender, and in fact this is a topic with interesting historical aspects. For example, would you be surprised to know that Aztec emperor Montezuma drank chocolate before visiting his wives, or that today much of the work on specialty cacao farms that grow some of the best cacao in the world is done by women?

Click here if you’re curious to see slides I shared during our delicious afternoon (my notes or video links to various relevant YouTube videos are in the comments to each slide)!

67652626_10218093484982799_8716922773349335040_n

67093620_10218093484342783_8339921955834560512_n
We sampled these wonderful craft chocolate bars by Askinosie Chocolate, Dandelion Chocolate, Gotham Chocolates, Taza Chocolate, and Violet Sky Chocolate, which are all slavery-free, sustainable, soy-free and lecithin-free, small-batch, and scrumptious! We also sampled cacao from Cacao Marquez, and had coffee from Hannah’s Bretzel, our generous venue host where all of these chocolate bars are available (so is the delicious fresh pretzel)!
67414360_10218093485622815_2132329946817757184_n
With ANHW Chicago Chapter President Litcy Kurisinkal (left)

Need a “sweet speaker” for your group? Click for my speaking engagement info or contact me at chocolateuplift@gmail.com!

Here are my slides again from this presentation, and thank you to all who made the event possible and all who attended!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

67445526_10218093483742768_5836824687992111104_n

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeriebeck/

Belú Cacao: [video] the sweet side of El Salvador

Screenshot_20190712-092011
Bite-sized sunshine: Belú Cacao minis!

When you hear “El Salvador,” what do you think? If you take a look at this wonderful new 1-minute-23-second video from Belú Cacao of El Salvador, on which I was thrilled to do a bit of remote behind-the-scenes consulting, you might think “gorgeous, clean, nature, cacao, chocolate, women in business!”

Belú Cacao is a woman-owned craft chocolate company, and I am thrilled to work with amazing founder Emily de Urías in getting her bars ready for and now successful in the US market! Her chocolate of course meets my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate, in that it is

Should we revive the Chocolate Travel Club and visit El Salvador?

 

Screenshot_20190712-092046
I’ve arranged the 3 sizes: “skinny,” full, and mini!
Screenshot_20190712-092115
The chocolate is made from cacao and sugar — all you need! The ingredients are grown in El Salvador, and the chocolate is made in El Salvador; the in-country trend in craft chocolate is very exciting. Click for a video about this special brand made in a beautiful place.

By the way, the business is called Belú because that is founder Emily’s young daughter’s nickname. Emily’s husband Carlos is super supportive of the business, and they are a fabulous family, using their education and professionalism to boost their community and nation and our world. (In case you’re wondering, Emily speaks perfect English, as my Spanish is known to be awful, especially as it gets tangled up with my French, German, and bad Italian!)

Find Belú products at US retailers including:

Avondale Coffee Club, Chicago

Foodease Market, Chicago

Rare Bird Preserves, Oak Park

Spilt Milk Market, Chicago

Totto’s Market, Chicago

Yahara Chocolate, Stoughton, WI

You can often find the brand’s cacao nibs on my grapefruit; I add them to my breakfast for their nutty flavor and healthy deliciousness!

50684659_10216746597191446_7632492029880041472_n

Enjoy the video!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Screenshot_20190712-091416
Here I am with Belú Cacao founder Emily de Urías and her husband Carlos, in Chicago

Valerie Beck

Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Talks, Tastings, Distribution, Consulting

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

 

 

Chicago Bar Association podcast: Chocolate Edition

Hello!

As a lawyer turned chocolate services entrepreneur, I’m thrilled to have been a guest on the Chicago Bar Association podcast, to talk about my career journey, craft chocolate, and eradicating child slave labor on cacao farms that supply Big Chocolate; you can listen here!

chicago-bar
JUL 3, 2019

The Chocolate Covered Edition

Valerie Beck talks about the world of craft, artisan chocolate and Valerie’s Chocolate Freedom Project, which is committed to ending child slave labor in the chocolate industry.

65020515_10217852494158179_4764966859986436096_n
Here is some of the delicious chocolate we tasted and discussed during taping. Thank you to podcast hosts Jon and Trish and Team for having me!

For more on my lawyer days, you can read my memoirs which I’m publishing on another blog generally weekly, Diary of My Disastrous Law Career: From Harvard to Heaven Help Me.

Thank you — onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

20180413_124505.png

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Distribution, Talks, Tastings

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

 

Washington Post: “much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor”

Cocoa’s child
laborers

Mars, Nestlé and Hershey pledged nearly two decades ago to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor.



June 5, 2019

Thank you to the journalists and the Washington Post for publishing this article, on a topic our circle has long discussed through the #chocolatefreedomproject I started! Read the article here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/business/hershey-nestle-mars-chocolate-child-labor-west-africa/

Your friend in slavery-free chocolate,

ValerieValerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift

New Additional Blog – Diary of My Disastrous Law Career

20190506_162457

Hello there!

I’ve started a new blog, a memoir of my days as a lawyer, called Diary of My Disastrous Law Career: From Harvard to Heaven Help Me, and the first post is up!

Chocolate forever, Harvard always, but lawyer no more — I left that career almost 20 years ago, and the blog tells you why. Read at your own risk. Plus: fun vintage photos.

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

https://diaryofmydisastrouslawcareer.blogspot.com/

 

 

Chocolate is love: Valentine gift sets

Hello!

Chocolate is love: I’ve assembled a small number of retail Valentine’s Day craft chocolate gift sets, and I’d love to send one to you or your gift recipient if you wish! The chocolate in these sets is, as always,

  • sustainable
  • slaveryfree
  • soy-free and lecithin-free
  • smallbatch and
  • scrumptious!

The sets are $50 each at www.paypal.me/chocolateuplift.

Which bar would you taste first:

♡Hot Pink by Chocolatasm,

♡Love and Happiness by Xocolatl Chocolate,

♡Hacienda Azul by Dandelion Chocolate, or

♡Vanilla Raspberry by Dick Taylor Chocolate?

Happy Valentine’s season!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder and CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Wholesale and Retail Distribution, Consulting, Talks, Tastings

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com

Valentine’s Chocolate Tastings in Chicago and Los Angeles

seatedtastingathannahs
Chocolate tasting at Hannah’s Bretzel! Join me in Chicago February 1 or 2, 2019!
Hello there!
Happy Valentine’s Day season! To celebrate, I’m holding seated chocolate tastings, and I hope you’ll join me!
Details for Chicago chocolate tastings:
What: This Valentine’s Day season, tour the world of chocolate without leaving your seat, during this 90-minute chocolate tasting led by chocolate expert and original chocolate tours founder Valerie Beck. Why is chocolate associated with love? Why does it lift our mood? We’ll focus on the answers, and on sustainable bean-to-bar chocolate. And we’ll taste a lot of top craft chocolate brands at this fun, fascinating, and delicious seated chocolate tasting! Great for couples, singles, or girls’ day out!
When: Friday and Saturday, February 1 and 2, 2019, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm.

Cost: $45 per person, or $35 per student or senior. Includes chocolate samples. You can purchase tickets for the chocolate tastings directly through Valerie’s PayPal link.

Details for Los Angeles chocolate tasting, including Letterpress Chocolate micro-factory tour:

What: This Valentine’s Day, explore the world of chocolate at LA’s local small-batch artisan chocolate manufactory, Letterpress Chocolate, during this 90-minute chocolate tasting event led by chocolate expert and original chocolate tours founder Valerie Beck. Why is chocolate associated with love? Why does it lift our mood? We’ll focus on the answers, and on sustainable bean-to-bar chocolate made onsite. And we’ll taste a lot of luscious Letterpress Chocolate at this fun, fascinating, and delicious chocolate tasting and factory tour! Great for couples, singles, or girls’ night out!
When: Thursday, February 14, 2019, 6:00 pm.

Where: Letterpress Chocolate, 2835 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034.
Cost: $50 per person, or $45 per student or senior. Includes chocolate samples. You can purchase tickets for the chocolate tastings directly through Valerie’s PayPal link.
atletterpress
See bean-to-bar chocolate being made at Letterpress Chocolate, and taste the finished products! Join me in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day, 2019!
Throwback: click for the story of how I started the original chocolate tours, and view a video montage from the old tour days!

Thank you, and happy Valentine’s Day!
Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

20180413_124505.png

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

A Chicagoan in LA: No Car, Much Chocolate

Hello and happy new year!

I’m commuting between Los Angeles and Chicago this winter, to teach a class at UCLA Extension on International Business Law, to promote craft chocolate like local LA small-batch wonder Letterpress Chocolate, and to thaw out from Chicago winters!

I don’t drive, and LA is a very car-focused city as you know, so this adds a layer of adventure!

You can check out my new blog about it all, called A Chicagoan in LA: Valerie Beck Car-free in the City of the Freeway, at https://achicagoaninla.blogspot.com/.

Coming soon: details of my visit to Letterpress Chocolate’s new retail and production space!

Meanwhile, I hope your 2019 is off to a delicious start!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie