Chocolate Purveyors 5- Sophia Contreras Rea
Chocolate Purveyors is a blog series where we connect and discuss everything chocolate with both makers and enthusiasts. This discussion is with Sophia Contreras Rea from Projet Chocolat.
Do you remember your first experience with real chocolate? What was it?
As a child, I grew up drinking Mexican chocolate, so I always grew up with real chocolate. My first experience with fine chocolate was at the chocolate festival in Los Angeles in the early 80s. They were dipping French bread into French chocolate! That was new to me.
How would you describe Projet Chocolat to someone who hasn’t heard of it?
Projet Chocolat is a small company of Nashville artists creating an accessory line to chocolate. We create new ways to serve, educate and store your favorite delicacy.
Before diving into the world of chocolate, you worked as a renowned chef, what caused the transition into chocolate?
I started doing small dinner parties for clients who were really into wine. I had always had chocolate in the back of my mind and started to pair chocolate and wine. I realized that chocolate and wine are flavor friends. Eventually the bigger focus became chocolate, my true food love.
You host wonderful chocolate tastings, what will someone attending one of your tastings experience?
Each tasting is different in that I try to make the experience match the host. I have done a mindfulness tasting, historical tasting, music and chocolate tasting and 7 chakra tasting. I also often partner with Mara Papatheodorou, former editor at Bon Appetit and Master Foodie. I talk about the chocolate and she talks about the inclusions, infusions and or pairings. Basically I can connect anything to chocolate. I have fun when I am at the tasting and that sets the tone for the guest. The tasting is a place for having fun and giving people permission to enjoy themselves because they deserve it. We all do.
What chocolate makers can be found in your personal chocolate stash right now?
Always Map, Kakawa Sipping Chocolate, always Soma, Valrhona feves, Guido Gobino gianduja and Chocolate Mucho as of late.
You are hosting a retreat for women in chocolate in Santa Fe next year, what inspired you to create these retreats?
This is a good question. I actually co started the retreat with Tamara LaValla with Batch Craft and Lauren Heineck with Wknd Chocolate. We wanted to create a safe place for women in the chocolate industry to gather and meaningfully connect.
While we saw the benefits of festivals and conferences we felt that those were best for information gathering and networking. We would meet women at the festivals and wanted to know them better but there was no time with everyone running from one class to the next. Even though my original co hosts are no longer a part of the retreat, we support each other. We are bonded and I owe a big thanks to Tamara and Lauren for starting this journey with me.
Do you have any favourite up and coming craft chocolate makers you think everyone should taste?
AndSons Chocolatiers. Kriss Harvey is a master chocolatier and his bonbons are next level. They are not cloyingly sweet and he is an artist with flavor, texture and of course visually as well.
What is your favourite chocolate city? What should people see when there?
Los Angeles. That’s right. I have never experienced a more warm and inviting community than LA. There is no pretense. Yes, you have to drive to get to each chocolate shop but everyone is so laid back and there is a rich history there in chocolate.
How can we all help promote craft chocolate and chocolate in general?
Have fun! Nobody listens to data first. They just want to know if it tastes good. Data only comes after taste in importance to support that what you have eaten was made with loving intention. Connect through heart not head. Nobody wants a lecture on chocolate unless you are a scientist or academic. The inside of our chocolate aroma kit, Les Arômes du Chocolat, has a quote I like to use at my tastings.
Lose your mind, and come to your senses. - Fritz Perls
If you could only eat one chocolate bar for the rest of your life, what bar would it be?
It would not be a bar it would be a Mexican drinking chocolate like what I grew up on.
We want to thank Sophia for taking time to participate in our interview series, make sure you visit her website Projet Chocolat and follow her amazing Instagram page @projet_chocolat to discover more on fine chocolate.
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