By Ellie Sara Groden
Ellie Sara Groden, Michael’s assistant and my partner in crime, was born in Miami Shores, Florida. After teaching English in Rome for three years, and other adventures abroad, in her mind most notably Maui and Big Sky, she returns to Miami to seek out more nature, culture, laughter and food! Find her on Twitter@EllieSara.
It’s no accident that our sweet executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s Smoked Chocolate Pie was chosen for the “Off Duty 50: Your Guide to an Awesome Autumn,” featured in this past Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. And what’s even awesomer? To step things up at home base, she began using TCHO chocolate exclusively at MGFD as of about a month ago, including Milk Chocolate Couverture 49% organic, fair trade, drops, and Dark Chocolate Couverture 68% drops, as well as the Roasted Cocoa Nibs organic, fair trade from Ecuador. Like Michael credits good food to good ingredients, we have a new chocolate love affair with TCHO, where “Great chocolate begins with great beans.” Better beans, better pie. And better Milk Chocolate Cremoso!
After meeting TCHO’s Rob Kopf this past spring at the Pebble Beach Wine & Food Festival, Hedy felt that bringing their socially conscious chocolate from San Francisco all the way down to Miami was a mandate. They just needed to figure out a way to do it. Since TCHO is not currently distributed in Florida, Rob’s solution was simple: he’d send it to us and eat the shipping cost.
TCHO has committed themselves to relationships with ethical farmers who take care of their employees. Happy cacao bean pickers, makes for happy chocolate right? The company employs a Sourcing Director, John Kehoe, with 17 years experience working with cacao and cacao farmers.
TCHO prides themselves on being a modern company, and you don’t have to take my word for it, check out the website, one of the most informative of any product I’ve browsed. But do so on a full stomach so as not to chew your fingers like I did over the very tasty tutorials about chocolate. Though the TCHO logo reads “New American Chocolate” the milk chocolate melts like an old world Swiss chocolate on your tongue. The dark chocolate has a bite but is smooth enough not to be bitter, it’s subtly strong for a 68%. And left me wanting much, much more.
Adding to what makes their flavor profile in addition to very good beans, TCHO has just sent their third “FlavorLab,” this one to Peru. They use a similar configuration to what TCHO uses everyday at its facility in Pier 17 to conduct both physical (levels of fermentation, bean size and count, etc) and sensory analysis (taste, acidity, bitterness, flavor, etc) of the beans. It educates and enables their source partners to better understand the true value and potential of their cacao: quality and flavor. It’s pretty brilliant stuff. Like a social enterprise, the company is committed empowering and enabling producers who normally might not have access to lab-scale chocolate making. And its final product benefits, too. A win win!
Thanks Hedy, for making the connection with TCHO and taking the chocolate factory back to the cacao beans on the farm!