We can't help but devote our Chocolatier Series to the new generation of passionate chocolatiers and chocolate makers, the best of the best in each of the cities where we scoop who are transforming the craft into a modern art. Meet all 21 who we partnered with this month to create unbelievable ice creams.
Growing up in the lush countryside of Ecuador, Sebastián Cisneros can still remember breathing in the slightly funky aroma of fresh cacao seeds drying on hot pavement. Two decades later, Cisneros produces single-estate Ecuadorian chocolates that embody the very place where he grew up.
During her last year of medical school, naturopath Melissa Berry made her mom a batch of vegan truffles as a gift. A few months later, those truffles won her first place at the Northwest Chocolate Festival. This unexpected success evolved what was once an at-home experiment into her thriving chocolate operation.
XOCOLATL de DAVÍD
A key Salt & Straw collaborator since day one (he helped us develop the recipe for our now-famous caramel ribbons), David Briggs started his company unintentionally while just “playing around with chocolate”. He honed his skills pairing savory and sweet elements with the varying flavor profiles of chocolates.
Owner of Portland’s first bean-to-bar chocolate company, Charley Wheelock is the city’s own Willy Wonka. A former furniture maker, Wheelock says crafting bean-to-bar chocolate is like realizing a dream he never knew he had. He loves sharing all he’s learned from using just two simple ingredients: cacao and pure cane sugar.
LILLIE BELLE FARMS
Ten years ago on a whim, Jeff Shepherd set up shop selling truffles at his local farmers’ market. Week after week, customers began coming back and wanting more. So he dove into the world of gourmet chocolates, using the best ingredients he could get his hands on. As an avid rock ‘n roll fan, Jeff proudly calls himself the “chocolatier to the rock gods”.
Christine Sull Sarioz
It’s no surprise Christine Sull Sarioz has a background in fine arts—the striking geometry of her chocolates has become her signature. An award-winning chocolatier, she also brings a wild level of technique to her bars.
When Diana Malouf was a little girl, her uncle brought her a shoebox full of candies from Lebanon—which blew her mind. She couldn’t believe the endless array of flavors, textures, and colors. Inspired by Middle Eastern flavors, Malouf is reinventing the butter cup.
Originally founded in the 1950s, Compartés is undergoing a revival thanks to chocolate prodigy Jonathan Grahm, who took over the company at age 21. Grahm sees chocolate as art—and you will too when you see his gourmet bars made with farmers’ markets ingredients and Instagrammable packaging.
TWENTY-FOUR BLACKBIRDS CHOCOLATE
After working for 10 years as a scientist, Mike Orlando felt creatively starved, so he picked up some hobbies: coffee roasting, baking, and chocolate making. Orlando’s background in marine biology and chemistry influences his highly analytical approach to his chocolate craft.
Do you take your fries with cocoa molé or vanilla aioli? At Chef Will Gustwiller’s Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro, you can have it both ways. Every item on his eclectic menu has at least cacao, vanilla, or caramel in each of its dishes—sweet and savory.
David & Sandra Meija
Wine pros-turned-bean-to-bar artisans David Meija and Sandra Bedoya are obsessed with the health properties of chocolate. They leave their vegan chocolate—made with just single-origin cacao and organic sugar—as pure and unadulterated as possible.
As the executive pastry chef for San Francisco’s small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate factory—Dandelion sorts, roasts, cracks, winnows, grinds, conches, and tempers their beans in house—Lisa Vega leads innovation of the company’s single-origin two-ingredient chocolate.
Christine Doerr’s chocolate love affair began in the ‘80s, when she started working for a truffle maker. In 2008, with the help of La Cocina—a non-proﬁt dedicated to incubating female food entrepreneurs—Christine began making her own line of shell-less truffles in small batches using only the highest quality ingredients.
As Chief Chocolate Maker for TCHO (pronounced “cho”), Brad Kintzer partners with cacao farmers, cooperatives, and cocoa research institutes around the globe to produce the best beans possible, and to arm farmers with the tools and training needed to become experts at flavor analysis and cacao production.
Adam Dick & Dustin Taylor
DICK TAYLOR CHOCOLATE
Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor love working with their hands. Former woodworkers, the pair found a common thread working with wood and crafting chocolate from the bean. They source fairly traded cacao and sweeten it with organic cane sugar.
Fran Bigelow, one of the first chocolatiers in the country, is kind of a big deal—but she keeps it real. A visit to Paris inspired her European-like passion for pure flavor and simple, exquisite ingredients. In 1982, she opened her first patisserie and chocolate shop to share that joie-de-vivre philosophy, and the rest is history.
A pioneer in ethical cocoa sourcing since it opened its doors 15 years ago, Theo is the first organic fair trade-certified cocoa producer in the United States. The company works directly with farmers in the Norandino Cooperative in Peru and Esco-Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to source amazing cocoa that benefits farmers and the environment.
INTRIGUE CHOCOLATE CO.
Farmer-turned-botanist-turned-brewer-turned-baker-turned-truffle maker Aaron Barthel has spent his life exploring the fine and simple things. Now a meticulous chocolatier, he handcrafts small batches of ganache with care to concoct the most innovative truffles you’ll ever taste.
FRESCO ARTISAN CHOCOLATE
Former engineer Rob Anderson takes an incredibly analytical approach to chocolate making, even constructing his own conche and using a clothes dryer for roasting. Anderson amazes his customers with his cocoa bean case studies, in which he tinkers to find the best flavor profiles.
At the forefront of the Seattle chocolate scene, master chocolatier Karen Neugebauer insists every step of her intricate process be done entirely by hand—and continually wows customers with her lineup of both traditional and cutting-edge confections, all with cunningly balanced flavor profiles.