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TCHO New American Chocolate

How do you build a chocolate brand?

From Edenspiekermann, our talented design firm.



21C: Voted #1 Hotel in U.S.

21c Museum Hotel: Voted #1 Hotel in U.S. and #6 in World in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2009

I told you they were cool, didn’t I? You heard it here first!


21C Museum Hotel offers TCHO some downright legendary Southern Hospitality

21C Museum Hotel listed as one of best places to stay in the world by readers of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine

Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown know how to do things right. For one thing, they’re really good at collecting contemporary art, and they love sharing their collection with art lovers and art novices alike. They’re really good at attracting smart and interesting people to collaborate with, mentor, etc. And they’re extremely good at hospitality, as their award winning and ultra popular boutique hotel in Louisville, KY proves. 21C Museum/Hotel is pretty much the hippest thing happening in my old hometown. And I was back there last week to help usher in TCHO for their turn down service.

The happy and ultra helpful staff were all wearing TCHO Tshirts the day of the launch, and there were huge bowls full of TCHO at both the front desk of the hotel and the restaurant. Nice touch!

That night, Steve and Laura Lee hosted a dinner in honor of Ezra Kellerman, Daan Roosegaarde and Leslie Lyons, three artists participating in the Ideas Festival, a sort of Southern-style TED conference. The dinner featured a 5 course, chocolate infused extravaganza created by Executive Chef, Michael Paley, from the hotel’s restaurant, Proof on Main. The menu consisted of:

  • Amuse Bouche: roasted fresh bacon (yepper, bacon and chocolate, check!), watermelon, blu di Bufala, 68% TCHOPro, and smoked cocoa powder
  • Early Autumn Pumpkin Soup: creme fraiche, pecan bread crumbs, shaved TCHO chocolate
  • Tuscan Cured Swordfish: eggplant stewed with chocolate and cinnamon, cucumber pine nut gazpacho
  • Roasted Lamb Rack: braised Swiss chard, panelle, TCHO mole
  • Poached Asian Pear: TCHOPro and caramel gelato, shortbread cookie

It was an inspired meal and oh so flavorful.

Steve WIlson congratulates Michael Paley on an inventive and exquisite dinner:

The dinner guests were an inspired and inspiring lot themselves. Kulapat Yantrasast, architect for the new wing of the Speed Museum, was there along with Lisa Resnik, the head of the Speed’s capital campaign.

Luyanda Mpahlwa, of MMA Architects in Cape Town, was also at the dinner. He was on hand to accept the CurryStone design prize, awarded during the Idea Festival last year. But because he was once an antiapartheid fighter imprisoned with Nelson Mandela, he has never been able to get a US visa until this year. I tried to convince him that all of America was just like Steve and Laura Lee’s Louisville, but he wasn’t buying it. Now he hopes to spend lots of time in the US, and to come see the TCHOcolate factory next time.

Local architect, entrepreneur and a dear old friend of mine, Mose Putney, is also an investor in TCHO. Shown here with Dorka Keehn, a San Francisco activist, artist and all around fabulous female, and Lindsay Moreman, another fabulous female, lifelong friend since high school, and designer/stylist/artist.

Steve Wilson on the left, Alice Grey Stites, director of the Art without Walls project and wife of my childhood tennis partner (!), Laura Lee Brown, and Tiffany Shlain (with hat), San Francisco filmmaker, new mom and IT girl, who opened the Idea Festival with a screening of her work in progress, Connected: A stream-of-consciousness ride through the interconnectedness of humankind.

We all went back to our beds that night to find 2 fabulous pieces of TCHO chocolate on our pillows. What a perfect match, 21C + TCHO!

The next morning, Daan Roosegaarde gave a fabulous talk about his beautiful and engaging interactive work and had a wonderful installation on Main Street.

On Saturday, I rode out to Woodland Farm, where Steve and Laura Lee go to decompress, ride horses, raise bison and grow the vegetables they serve at Proof on Main. I got friendly with one of their charges:

Private chef Schoen, who was just at the TCHO factory in San Francisco earlier in the week, got more than friendly with another bison and served it to us for lunch with a fabulous red wine and pepper sauce, beans from the garden, freshly picked salad, and of course an apple tart with TCHOPro for dessert! Turns out bison is the leanest red meat there is, with no more cholesterol than chicken. And it’s mighty tasty, too…

My friends in Kentucky, and especially at 21C are way into good food, slow food, locally grown, seasonal produce, etc. Here’s their prize winning country ham.

And here are some shots of the art and atmosphere at the hotel. Even though my parents still live in town, 21C is TCHO’s home in Louisville!


Got a migrane?? Try a TCHO-A-Day!!

Cocoa Enriched Diets May Be Beneficial In Treatment Of Migraine

For several years, researchers have been interested in the value ofTheobroma cacao in treating a variety of disorders. A new study presented at the International Headache Society’s 14th International Headache Congress hosted by the American Headache Society (AHS) in Philadelphia, has provided the first evidence for the value of cocoa as a dietary supplement in repressing inflammatory responses within the trigeminal ganglia which are thought to play a role inmigraine.

“It appears that a cocoa-enriched diet in rats can repress the proteins that are associated with the promotion and maintenance of inflammatory responses such as migraine,” said Paul L. Durham, PhD of Missouri State University’s Center for Biomedical & Life Sciences, an author of the study.

“Although this is an early animal study, it shows promise in helping researchers understand more about how migraine can be prevented and treated,” said Michael Moskowitz, MD, President of the International Headache Society. “So much more research is needed in understanding this devastating disease that robs millions of Americans of a productive quality of life.” Some 36 million Americans suffer with migraine, more than either diabetes or asthma.

More than 400 scientific papers and posters are to be presented during the IHC/AHS meeting which is expected to draw some 1,200 migraine specialists and scientists from around the globe. The meeting is the world’s largest professional conference on migraine and headache-related diseases.

International Headache Society

I’m just sayin…




Très Chouette

I’d read about them, but now I’m holding them in my hands and actually smelling them — the chocolate stamps La Poste (France) issued this summer. (Thanks and a tip of our hat to my Paris buds the Patricks — Ian, Veronique, and Lea). Oh, and they smell like milk chocolate.


TCHO Gateux Royale

Some of us here are bakers and whatnot, so when I was asked to try Emily Luchetti’s flourless chocolate cake recipe with our TCHOPro 68%, I jumped at it.

As you can see, it came out looking great! It was very tasty and absolutely sinful. Everyone attacked it and it was gone in a flash.

Next, TCHOcolate and Mint ice cream which is hardening in my freezer as I type this…yay!


We can see clearly now

For the first time ever, according to this report, scientists from IBM Research Zurich have used an atomic force microscope to image all the atoms in a single molecule.

The molecule is pentacene, used in solar cells, and is made up of 22 carbon and 14 hydrogen atoms. This is how it used to be imagined in the good old days:

This, by the way, is the structure of theobromine, one of the active ingredients in chocolate:

And this is the structure of a substance that theobromine is often confused with, caffeine:

You’ll note that the structures are almost identical, except that, at the top left, theobromine lacks one carbon and two hydrogen atoms.

You might say that theobromine is not just the food but the designer drug of the gods, since by removing those carbon and hydrogen atoms, theobromine becomes a muscle relaxant (perhaps why it is good for the heart) as well as a brain stimulant instead of a central nervous system stimulant like caffeine.

Can’t wait to see it under the atomic force microscope.



In the middle of a foggy and cold San Francisco summer, we held the first ever “tchOSCARS”, an in-house competition for TCHO employees dreamt up by our team-builder-in-chief, and VP of Operations, Laurel Collier, and executed by two of our interns Ting and Kaileen Kelly. The event was a blast and allowed employees to express their creative talents using our chocolates and have some fun together as a company.

My acceptance speech will have to wait for next year but I had good fun creating a savory dish with our chocolate. Here is the recipe, obviously not fully refined… and some fun product placement shots.

“Pork Tenderloin Lollypops with a TCHO Drinking Chocolate – Chipotle Rub and Chocolate-Bourbon Dipping Sauce”

TCHO Drinking Chocolate – Chipotle Rub

1 C. TCHO Drinking Chocolate
1 ½ tsp Garlic Powder
1 ½ tsp Onion Powder
½ tsp Ground whole Allspice
1 pinch Sage
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Fresh Ground mixed peppers
1 tsp Chipotle chili powder

Mix ingredientsin a food processor to mix well and grind more finely the drinking chocolate

Cut 2 pork loins (about 2.3 lbs net) into cubes and marinate in 2 oz. of good quality bourbon (your choice, no sponsors yet!) along with a dash of high end balsamic vinegar. I let this sit while I made up the rub. Drain off remaining liquid and mix in the TCHO Drinking Chocolate Chipotle Rub, making sure to cover the cubes well. Cover and let sit overnight.

Skewer the cubes at the end of long, 8” wooden skewers. Get your grill “clean, hot and lubricated” ‘kause this stuff could stick! A good trick is to place 6” of folded tinfoil in the front of the grill in order to not burn the skewers and still get the meat over the heat of the grill. Cook covered for 5 minutes at medium – high heat, turn and cook another 5 minutes.

TCHOPro 68% Chocolate – Bourbon Barbeque Dipping Sauce

2 cups TCHOPro 68% Dark Chocolate

¾ cup Roasted–pureed heirloom tomatoes (or tomato paste if you do not live within walking distance of one of the greatest farmers markets in the world…

2 tbsp Butter

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (the good stuff…)

½ cup Bourbon (also the good stuff…!)

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp Honey mustard

1 ½ tsp lime juice + zest

½ tsp Salt

½ tsp Pepper

½ tsp Onion powder

½ tsp Garlic powder

¼ tsp Chipotle chili powder

OK… now for the fun part! Melt the butter in a large sauce pan and add the brown sugar. Let the sugar melt well over a medium flame, stirring gently. Raise the flame until the sugar is almost burning and hit it with the ½ cup of Bourbon…! When the flames hit the cupboard above the stove, remove the pan really carefully and try not to burn down your new apartment the night before the tchOSCARS…!

Once the flames are out and the fire alarm has not gone off, you can relax and the rest of the ingredients. I melted the chocolate in a crockpot, added the rest of the mixture and let it cook slowly, covered at the lowest setting.

I think the kicker would have been to adjust the thickness and the sweetness with the magic of Dr. Pepper… Maybe next year!



Going back to Texas.

I’m at the Oakland airport and still a little sleepy. I notice an unusually high number of the classic burnt orange “TEXAS” and longhorn symbols (that are associated with the University of Texas) on Tshirts, sweatshirts, hats, keychains, etc.

It was then when it hit me, “I’m going back to Texas!”. (I usually don’t make the mental transition of going to another place until I’m on the plane and taking off.)

So I’m going back to where I was born, Texas. (Dallas) Yes, I AM a Texan and proud of it! (BTW, “W” is not really a Texan. He’s really a East Coast born WASP so please, none of the usual comments.)

I’m going to the land of Bevo to present a Chocolate and Cheese pairing to a few hundred people at the American Cheese Societyconference in Austin. I’m really looking forward to the event.

Many times when I bring up pairing chocolate and cheese together people are a bit taken aback, but chocolate and cheese, paired right, is incredible.

Rob, my past business partner in Cabaret Chocolates, was the one who got me hooked on this seemingly absurd combination. Think about it. What are the two primary “tastes” in chocolate? Bitter & Sweet. And for cheese? Salty and Sour. When combined, you get the all four of the (western) tastes–bitter, sweet, salt and sour.

Further, if you combine it just right, you come up with some very provocative and mouthgastic combinations. And for fun, I sometimes make pairings that actually cancel all the flavors out to become this surprisingly neutral tasting, in-mouth “fat bomb” that goes off. The possibilities are endless.

To get ready for this event, Peggy Smith (from Cowgirl Creamery) and I (w/ Shiao furiously scribbling down our findings) put together a bunch of knock-your-socks-off pairings a few weeks back. At the Cowgirl Creamery Ferry Building store, we developed cheese pairings for each of our chocolates–each of our single origin, flavor eating chocolates as well as the conventional TCHOPro blends.

After the event, I’ll post up to the blog the pairing suggestions we developed.

For those who maybe reading this and will be attending the event, I will be breaking out some of the alpha Fruity 2.0 chocolate as one of the two chocolates we will be presenting. So that’s sure to get some good oohs and ahhs.

All this typing about food is making hungry. Luckily, I’ve already been compiling my list of my favorite and hopefully soon to be favorites, TexMex and BBQ joints around Austin.

I’m salivating at the thought of sinking my teeth into my first order of fish tacos at Gueros.



Go Forth

Levi’s has recently launched this campaign, which I became aware of the other day when I passed huge posters with the words below hanging in Levi’s Plaza near our factory here in SF. Don’t think this is a perfect campaign. For one thing, it’s singular rather than plural, which I think is the real ethos of the new Millennium. Also, though the words are strong, their TV ad, which uses a poem by Whitman (in his own voice, from an old recording!), is actually very Bruce Weberish in depicting kids playing instead of working. While this campaign is just not deep or evolved enough to be completely right, it is, nevertheless, a harbinger and (good) sign of our times.



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