Those curious about bean-to-bar chocolate-making should mark March 5 on their calendars. “Wild Chocolate: A Bean-to-Bar Blowout at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden” will feature Red Hook–based Raaka Chocolate, makers of fine chocolate that uses unroasted beans. Nate Hodge, the founder and head chocolatier at the company, will be presiding and screening footage from the new documentary Setting the Bar, in which he journeys to the Peruvian Amazon—the very place that cacao is believed to have originated.
“Terroir’s important to chocolate in the same way that it’s important to wine, or apples, or grain,” Hodge told me in 2016. “A lot of the beans that we use, if you roast them—a light roast, which is what a lot of craft chocolate does—you get similar flavors. But for our chocolate, it’s just a lot more magnified. In traditional chocolate, the reason you roast is to roast out any variance.”
Following the screening, he’ll discuss the challenges—both social and economic—of preserving necessary biodiversity in cacao farming. After all the learning, you’ll be able to taste fresh cacao fruit, nibs and finished chocolate. DJ Ecotone will be playing the ambient sounds of the rainforest in order to really transport all attendees, and Archestratus will be bringing over vintage cacao illustrations and a selection of chocolate cookbooks.