Chocolate for a cause and for connection:
I’m honored to serve on the board of Imerman Angels, a nonprofit started by my dear friend Jonny Imerman, where the mission is “to provide comfort and understanding for all cancer fighters, survivors, previvors and caregivers through a personalized, one-on-one connection with someone who has been there.”
Essentially, that means one-on-one mentorship for anyone affected by cancer, free of charge. I love the uplifting human-to-human work that Jonny and his team do, around the world.
And, I’m honored to support the Imerman Angels Spirit Week 2021 Gala, a series of free online events in May, by holding a special chocolate tasting on Tuesday, May 25, at 7:00 pm CT! Having founded the world’s first chocolate tours years ago from an idea I had when I was 19, having grown the business to 50 team members in 4 cities, and now focusing on craft chocolate distribution, consulting, and tastings, what a joy it is for me to put together this virtual chocolate tasting. (Click if you’re curious about my bio or “sizzle reel” [video])!
Our topic will be: How to Identify Sustainable Craft Chocolate, and we will have a fun, fascinating, and delicious time! Cacao has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being an immune-boosting superfood, so a chocolate tasting to support a cancer mentorship organization just makes sense, beyond the fact that chocolate always makes sense, right! : )
You can register for the chocolate tasting and any of the other events at imermanangels.org/gala, and if you’d like to purchase chocolate to enjoy during the tasting, with proceeds going to Imerman Angels, you may do so by sending $50 to me via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org or paypal.me/chocolateuplift. The price includes US shipping. Please include your mailing address.
Here is the chocolate I’ve selected for our tasting — all made by wonderful clients of my craft chocolate distribution business, Chocolate Uplift — while quantities last:
- Crow & Moss Chocolate of Petoskey, Michigan: India Anamalai 70%. This delicious dairy-free chocolate bar is made from just 2 ingredients — cacao and sugar, all you need! The cacao is grown on a family-owned farm in India, and the chocolate bar gives notes of mango, lime, and honey, all from the cacao. This exciting new brand, created by a young couple in Northern Michigan — chef-turned-chocolate-maker Mike Davies and graphic designer Danielle Davies — just had to be in my line-up because Jonny Imerman, founder of Imerman Angels, is a University of Michgan alum, as are several of the team members and board members. (My mother grew up on a small family farm in Michigan, so it’s all connected!)
- Dick Taylor Chocolate of Eureka, California: Hazelnut Milk Chocolate 55%. Made from single-origin Brazil cacao, Oregon hazelnuts, and old-fashioned A2/A2 milk from a local Northern California family farm, this is a sophisticated, non-sweet, and truly sumptuous milk chocolate bar that dark chocolate lovers love too. Founders Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick chose A2/A2 milk because it contains enzymes that are said to be more digestible. Like most of the brands and bars I work with, this chocolate bar is organic, so it contains no GMOs, no herbicides or pesticides, and cane sugar instead of refined sugar. Plus, it is just so tasty, it is one of those can’t-stop-eating-it bars!
- Gotham Chocolates of New York City: Independent 70%. Award-winning pastry chef Ron Paprocki started this craft chocolate brand in the kitchen of Michelin-starred Gotham Bar & Grill, in order to have just the chocolate he wanted for desserts in the restaurant. Now the chocolate has taken on a life of its own — or taken over some lives, as chocolate will do, I’m happy to confirm! — and Chef Ron with Gotham owner Bret Csencsitz have created a precision-focused brand, wrapped in art inspired by Ellsworth Kelly, one of whose works hung near the restaurant kitchen. This 2-ingredient bar (remember — cacao and sugar: all you need!) is made from a blend of 2 cacaos, estate-grown in Ecuador and wild in Bolivia, and gives complex notes of whisky and wine; you may want to pair this bar with the wines in the wine tasting event that will also be part of Spirit Week, for a like-with-like tasting experience!
- Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta: Dark & Salty 80%. Are you concerned that an 80% dark chocolate bar might be bitter or dry? This bar shows that 80% can be smooth, silky, and flavorful, with quality cacao, and quality chocolate-making! The cacao in this bar was grown in Uganda by the Semuliki Forest collective of around 1,000 family farmers, and I love the warm rich notes of cinnamon and fig on a core note of straight-ahead chocolate — all from the cacao and how it is turned into chocolate. The chocolate itself is made from — you guessed it, cacao and sugar: all you need! — and Xocolatl wife-husband owners Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt and team add some vanilla bean-infused sea salt for a bright dash of zing. This is Team Xocolatl’s newest and current favorite bar, and I also just had to choose it because our Jonny Imerman is a fan of 100% chocolate bars (= no sugar, just cacao), and this easy-to-love 80% bar was as close as I thought I could get to 100% and still have absolutely everyone love it (100% bars are totally loveable too, just perhaps more of an acquired taste! : )
What exactly do these bars have in common? They are all created by incredibly kind people I’m honored to call friends and clients, and they all meet my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate:
We’ll talk more at our virtual event about how to identify ethical craft chocolate bars like these. Whether you purchase the chocolate kit (or would rather just watch me eating it haha!) I hope you’ll join the Imerman Angels Spirit Week 2021 Gala!
By the way, someone asked me how long I’ve known Jonny Imerman; I just joined the board this past year, but Jonny and I have been friends for more than a decade, and have always admired each other’s work, and here’s an old photo (of a photo) of us from 2007!
Onward and upward!
Your friend in chocolate,
Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift
Craft Chocolate Consulting, Distribution, Speaking