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

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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?

 

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I’ve arranged the 3 sizes: “skinny,” full, and mini!
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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!

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Enjoy the video!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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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.

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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

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Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Distribution, Talks, Tastings

chocolateuplift@gmail.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

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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

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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

Limited Engagement: Chicago Chocolate Tours and Tastings

Hello there!
Limited engagement: I’m doing a few Chicago Chocolate Tours and seated chocolate tastings!
(Click for the story of how I started the original chocolate tours, a long time ago! And click here for a video montage from the old tour days!)
I miss you, and won’t this be a fun and tasty way to celebrate the holidays and new year! This is just from December 17 through January 6, and after that we’ll see!
You’re the first to know: I might have some Los Angeles dates after that; let me know if you’re interested!
hannahs
Here are the links:
Seated chocolate tastings – a fun, fascinating, and delicious tour without leaving your seat –
Walking tours to chocolate shops – a new Belgian chocolate shop is on board along with our old favorites –
tour at hendrickx
I welcome your thoughts or questions, and hope to see you there!
Thank you – onward and upward!
Your friend in chocolate,
Valerie
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Valerie Beck
Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift
Sustainable Craft Chocolate Distribution, Talks, Tastings

@chocolateuplift 

 

Delicious Ethics: What’s in Your Chocolate, Who Grew Your Cacao?

Hello there!

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Craft chocolate and sustainable cacao for my talk at NW Choc on Delicious Ethics!

Click for the presentation I developed for my talk at the 2018 Northwest Chocolate Festival in sweet Seattle, entitled

Delicious Ethics: What’s in Your Chocolate, Who Grew Your Cacao?

To support cacao and chocolate that are slavery-free and sustainable, you can use the #chocolatefreedomproject hashtag, purchase transparent-trade chocolate, and let brands know you care about what’s in your chocolate, and who grew your cacao.

Thank you and keep eating real chocolate!

Onward and upward!

Valerie

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On my way to sweet Seattle for the talk and chocolate festival!

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com

Sustainable Chocolate Brokering, Distribution, Consulting, Speaking

 

 

Culinary Historians podcast – yours truly talks chocolate!

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Here’s some of the delicious craft chocolate and specialty cacao we tasted at my talk for Culinary Historians – click for the podcast!

Hello!

Need a lift? The awesome group Culinary Historians of Chicago just uploaded the podcast of the upbeat chocolate- and giggle-filled talk I gave for them in September 2017, and here it is!

It’s called “From Cacao to Craft Chocolate: Stories from the Past, Sustainability for the Future,” and I hope you enjoy it! [Note: Podcast ends abruptly during question period due to technical issues.]

Need a talk and tasting for your group? Here are some details!

Your friend and “sweet speaker” in chocolate,

Valerie

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com

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After the Culinary Historians talk, with my Kendall College student helpers!

Child labor in cacao: scale of efforts to solve problem nowhere near scale of problem

The Cocoa Barometer 2018 report is out, and it reminds us that 2.1 million children work on cacao farms in West Africa, so that shelves in the US and Europe and elsewhere can stay stocked with cheap chocolate.

The report also points out that

“not a single company or government is anywhere near the sector-wide objective to eliminate child labour. It is high time for efforts to be increased. In that light, it is important to stress that child labour is a symptom of deeper problems; without tackling systemic poverty and a lack of local infrastructures, child labour will not be eradicated.”

Click through this article for the report, or download the report here.

Solutions, on my Instagram:

Social justice Sunday / sustainability Sunday! Reports show 2.1 million children work on cacao farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, so shelves in the US and Europe and elsewhere can stay stocked with cheap chocolate from big brands.
🌟
The Cacao Barometer 2018 report has been released, and reminds us that the cause of child labor is poverty. The authors emphasize that “not a single company or government is anywhere near reaching the sector-wide objective of the elimination of child labour, and not even near their commitments of a 70% reduction of child labour by 2020.” You can see the report on my blog at http://www.chocolateuplift.com.
🌟
Do you agree we can vote with our $, €, voices, and ethics? Companies will act when we demand it. We are empowered:
We can tell Hershey/Nestle/Mars/Mondelez/Ferrero(Nutella)/Callebaut and other big brands – and the retailers who carry them – that we want farmers to be paid a living wage instead of 50 cents per day, and that we want the brands to use #slaveryfree cacao and let kids go to school.
🌟
As I highlight in my talks, we can also buy craft chocolate and can read labels to make sure we see:
1. the cacao country of origin, just as a bottle of wine tells you where the grapes are from; if a brand has no transparency on who grew the cacao, ask what they’re hiding,
2. a small-batch brand that cares about human rights and sustainability in cacao, which also leads to better flavor through better agricultural practices and fair payments, and
3. a soy-free brand / clean ingredients, as chemical additives often go with low-quality cacao from non-sustainable sources in industrial processing.
🌟 Empathy ends poverty.
That’s my #chocolatefreedomproject; join me!
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

You can also check out CREER Africa, a nonprofit children’s rescue center in Ivory Coast, which helps kids who escaped from cacao slavery or other trafficking and which I support by donating meals to the kids at the center, as a way to make a difference.

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

www.instagram.com/chocolateuplift

Food Revolution: Good Food Awards 2018

By Valerie Beck, Chocolate Broker, Distributor, Speaker, Muse

The Good Food Awards are the Oscars of US-made artisan food, recognizing sustainability, social impact, and deliciousness, and the 8th annual awards celebration last night in San Francisco was a celebration of good food indeed, including amazing craft chocolate and spectacular confections!

There were 199 winners in 15 categories, and I’m outrageously proud of and impressed by those craft chocolate makers and confectioners with whom I have the honor to work or represent, who were recognized onstage:

Chocolate

Creo Chocolate

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate

Fruition Chocolate

Ritual Chocolate

Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate


Confections

Batch PDX

Good King
Months prior to the awards, I encouraged clients and contacts to enter from around the country, including some who hadn’t entered before, such as Xocolatl, first time entrant and already a winner!

I was also thrilled to be invited help behind the scenes last September in San Francisco, coordinating the judging process at the blind tasting – I didn’t want to be a judge because I wouldn’t want anyone to imagine that I chose my clients and contacts to win, even if subconsciously – and it was inspiring to see so much enthusiasm and so much wonderful sustainable food!

Scroll for scenes, including of the fabulous afterparty at AirBnB headquarters where we were able to sample exquisiteness from winners in all categories, from cheese and bread, to fish and charcuterie, to beer and spirits, pickles and pantry, and of course chocolate and confections!  

Keep eating real food, and real chocolate!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com