Two Makers, Two Seasons, Two News Stories

Hello there, and happy equinox!

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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

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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!

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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!
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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

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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)!

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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)!
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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

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Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

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

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!

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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

 

New Additional Blog – Diary of My Disastrous Law Career

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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

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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.
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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

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!
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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

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