Valerie Beck bios and sizzle reel!

Hello!

Please click to watch my 3-minute “sizzle reel” video montage of TV segments, click here for my speaker’s one-sheet, and see below for my short and long bios. Thank you!

ABOUT

Chocolate expert and Harvard grad Valerie Beck is a chocolate industry entrepreneur, pioneer, and activist. Creator of the original chocolate tours, which she expanded to cities across the US with a team of 50, she is also a chocolate consultant, broker, and speaker, as well as a cheerful and engaging media personality.
She founded Chocolate Uplift to provide chocolate services to the trade, to the public, and to cacao growing nations.
Email chocolateuplift@gmail.com to inquire about booking Valerie for media appearances, seminars, or consulting projects. And follow her on Instagram at @chocolateuplift.
Here’s to “uplift through chocolate!”
Valerie Beck
Founder and CEO

Short bio – longer version follows

Chocolate expert Valerie Beck is a pioneering entrepreneur in chocolate and hospitality. Valerie created the original Chicago Chocolate Tours, which she expanded to 4 cities across the US, grew to 50 employees, and ran for 10 years, educating and entertaining tens of thousands of people about the history, health benefits, production, and selection of first-class chocolate. Valerie’s business Chocolate Uplift currently brokers and distributes chocolate made by craft artisan chocolate makers, and provides consulting services to cacao growers and chocolate makers, always with a focus on ethical chocolate and sustainability. In fact, her 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate are: slavery-free, soy-free and industrial additive-free, sustainable, small-batch, and scrumptious!

A Chicago native, Valerie graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. After practicing law in Europe and the US, she founded the chocolate tours and Chocolate Uplift, and is also a popular speaker, writer, chocolate show judge, and media personality.

She started the Chocolate Freedom Project to end child slave labor on the cacao farms that produce cocoa beans for big chocolate brands, and supports formerly trafficked kids at a West African rescue center. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Kendall College and UCLA Extension, spreading chocolate knowledge to new generations, and continues to work with students through her virtual tutoring business Valerie’s Infinity Tutoring. 

Valerie’s mission is Uplift Through Chocolate, because chocolate can improve our mood and the world!

Longer bio

Valerie Beck, founder of Chocolate Uplift and of the original Chicago Chocolate Tours nationwide, also known as Valerie’s Original Chocolate Tours, is a cheerful chocolate expert on TV and radio and in print, and has been profiled in multiple media outlets such as NBC, ABC, WGN TV, WGN Radio, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and Crain’s Chicago Business.

She is an upbeat and engaging speaker and blogger on all things chocolate. She speaks frequently on topics such as the history and health benefits of chocolate, such as in her presentation “What’s in Your Chocolate: Making Conscious Chocolate Choices,” where she teaches how to interpret labels to discern what’s really in your chocolate bar, and discusses her 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate, which are: slavery-free, soy-free and industrial additive-free, sustainable, small-batch, and scrumptious! She also speaks on business and motivational topics, with a chocolate twist, such as in her presentation on “The ABCs of Sweet Success: Attitude, Belief, Commitment.”

Her chocolate consulting work ranges from helping brands create and launch new chocolate bars, to helping cacao growing nations promote their products.

Valerie is also a popular judge at chocolate competitions such as the annual World of Chocolate event in Chicago, and at business plan and innovation competitions.

Valerie is a pioneer in the business of chocolate tourism and other chocolate services to the public, to the trade, and to cocoa growing nations. Chocolate Uplift is the umbrella for all of these offerings. Chocolate Uplift provides entertaining and educational services to the public including trips to chocolate festivals around the world, and chocolate wellness seminars. Chocolate Uplift also provides valuable services to the chocolate industry, such as consulting to chocolate brands particularly in the small-batch and fine chocolate categories, importing fair trade cocoa beans and chocolate baking discs directly from ethical sources, and arranging origin trips to cocoa farms for bean-to-bar chocolate makers and others. In addition, Valerie consults for cocoa growing nations such as Ecuador, to promote their ethical cacao and chocolate.

A Chicago native, Valerie created the first chocolate tours when she founded Chicago Chocolate Tours in 2005, to introduce chocolate lovers to small-batch chocolate shops and bakeries. With her team of “Choc Stars” she grew the business to become a well-known and award-winning tour company serving tens of thousands of chocolate lovers, with 50 employees, which opened in Philadelphia and Boston in 2009, and developed footprints in additional cities. In 2016, Valerie relaunched the business as Valerie’s Original Chocolate Tours, with renewed focus on sustainable cacao and artisan chocolate.

Valerie invented the concept of the chocolate tour years earlier, when she was a 19-year-old Harvard College senior studying abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris. She had been focused on chocolate since announcing at age 4 that she would drink milk only if it were chocolate. In Paris she fell in love with truly fine chocolate, and started taking her friends on informal excursions she developed to her favorite chocolate and pastry locations there and in Belgium.

Later, after graduating from Harvard Law School, Valerie practiced law in Chicago and Europe, and took the opportunity during her years in Europe to deepen her knowledge of chocolate and pastry.

Her awards include Influential Woman in Business from the Daily Herald Business Ledger, and Top 100 Woman Owned Businesses from the Philadelphia Business Journal. She has mentored many other entrepreneurs through Women’s Innovation Network – WIN, the Chicago City Treasurer’s small business program, and through private consulting.  

Her philanthropy of choice for her business is CARE, which helps women and families around the world exit poverty through entrepreneurship. Valerie is also exploring and creating projects such as her Chocolate Freedom Walk to help children forced into slave labor on the West African cacao farms that produce the bulk of the world’s chocolate, while she promotes fair trade and socially responsible chocolate. She started the Chocolate Freedom Project to end child slave labor on the cacao farms that produce cocoa beans for big chocolate brands, and supports formerly trafficked kids at a West African rescue center. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Kendall College and UCLA Extension, spreading chocolate knowledge to new generations. Valerie continues to work with students through her virtual tutoring business Valerie’s Infinity Tutoring. 

Valerie’s mission is Uplift Through Chocolate, because chocolate can change everything from our mood, to the world!

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Activism, Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

Women Entrepreneurs Making Social Impact [slides, chocolate ordering links]

Hello!

harvard women chocolate presentation
A selection of women-made or -led ethical chocolate brands

What a blast to give a zoom presentation for an amazing group of my Harvard College women classmates today about *Women Entrepreneurs Making Social Impact,* and to share my journey and mission of Uplift Through Chocolate!

Here is the link to my slides; be sure to open them all the way to see the information and links in the Notes sections! Enjoy, and scroll down this page for online shopping links to woman-owned retailers and woman-owned or -led brands!

20180902_182005
We are Harvard and proud: outside my former dorm Stoughton (left in photo) a couple of years ago for Convocation. Here are the slides to my talk today for Harvard women classmates.

We are celebrating the 100-year anniversary of women’s right to vote here in the US, and I applaud my classmates who organized a video chat series for us featuring stories of women’s activism! Our college reunion next month was canceled due to the coronavirus situation (stay well, and keep perspective: 11 million people die each year from poor diet — including from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes caused by eating industrial Big Food — that’s 1 in 5 deaths globally and that’s 50 times more than have died from covid-19, so why haven’t we shut down Big Food and the outlets like Amazon that sell it?), and we are moving forward with our own events, virtually!

I gathered beautiful and delicious craft chocolate bars shown here from woman-owned or -led brands, to wave around on-screen, along with the fascinating book 1491 (click for a related article by the book’s author in The Atlantic) about life in the Americas before Columbus — we can learn a lot from the societies of indigenous people, like the one that had a grandmothers council of wise women to approve or reject political plans — which includes information about the role of cacao and chocolate.

Also recommended: the excellent documentary Setting the Bar, which gives insights into the role of women in a cacao-growing region today and features several of my dear clients and friends, and an awesome article called “The Chocolate-Brewing Witches of Colonial Latin America!”

(Those links are also in my slides.)

ecuador cacao pod
Cacao: immunity-boosting superfood!

 

Mother’s Day is coming! Where to buy the amazing craft chocolate bars I discussed in my presentation, which meet my 5 Ss of

  1. slavery-free (remember to look for the cacao country of origin)
  2. soy-free / industrial additive-free
  3. sustainable
  4. small-batch, and
  5. scrumptious:

 

Woman-owned retailers, carrying woman-owned or -led craft chocolate brands, order online or by phone and tell them I sent you

Beacon Hill Chocolates in Boston

    • Look for:
      • Bixby Chocolate of Maine
      • Ritual Chocolate of Utah

 

Cocoa + Co. in Chicago

    • Look for:
      • Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta

 

Gourmet Boutique in Boston

    • Look for:
      • Askanya Chocolate of Haiti

 

Rare Bird Preserves in Oak Park, Illinois

    • Look for:
      • Bixby Chocolate of Maine
      • Ritual Chocolate of Utah

 

Direct from woman-owned brands, order online and tell them I sent you

  • Askanya Chocolate of Haiti, ships from New York City, use coupon code ASKCHOCO2020 for 20% off
  • Fresco Chocolate of Washington State
  • Good King snacking cacao from Honduras and Indonesia, ships from Seattle, free shipping

 

Male-owned retailer, carrying some great woman-owned brands, order online and tell him I sent you

Yahara Chocolate of Wisconsin

    • Look for:
      • Belú Cacao of El Salvador
      • Chequessett Chocolate of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
      • Fruition Chocolate of New York State
      • Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta

 

Male-owned retailer, carrying some great woman-owned brands, open for walk-ins, tell him I sent you

Totto’s Market of Chicago

    • Look for:
      • 9th & Larkin of San Francisco
      • Chocolate Tree of Scotland
      • Good King snacking cacao of Honduras and Indonesia by way of Seattle

 

Most of the women chocolate makers and retailers I spoke with the other day in preparation for my presentation basically said the same thing: any income still coming in goes to their employees during these days of virus pandemonium. So whether you shop with a retailer or directly with a brand, you are helping their (mostly women) employees!

 

womenmade incountry chocolate
A selection of woman-made in-country chocolate: the chocolate bars were made in the same country where the cacao was grown, which means more profit and pride for local teams than if the cacao were exported without making a finished product

As you may know, my business Chocolate Uplift generally doesn’t sell chocolate to the public since closing the subscription box part of the business; instead, I sell and distribute craft chocolate bars like the ones listed above wholesale to retailers like the ones listed above, and also provide consulting services to chocolate makers and cacao farm owners, and speaking engagements to the public and for meetings and events.

I also operate a free “chocolate-finder” service: if there’s a type of chocolate or a flavor or a brand you want, and you don’t know where to order it, ask me and I’ll find out and tell you!

Thank you, and keep eating real chocolate!

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,
Valerie

valerie chocolate hug
Sending you a chocolate hug, as we move toward a world that nourishes people and planet! That’s Uplift Through Chocolate!

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift