Cacao, the Art & Culture of Chocolate is a creative collaboration between Melanie Boudar and Derek Lanter. The pair met in Oahu , Hawaii each working in different aspects of the fine chocolate industry there.
Melanie is a multi award winning , chocolatier and former creator & owner of Sweet Paradise Chocolatier in Wailea ,Maui which she started in 2008 and sold in 2015.
Melanie’s love of chocolate developed during her numerous trips to Europe as a diamond and gem buyer for fine jewelery companies both in New Mexico and Hawaii.
On one of her buying trips she had a diamond deal go wonky when the cutter discovered he’d accidentally undersold the parcel of diamonds and asked for them back. Her broker advised her she could take the issue to diamond court down the street but she empathized with the cutter who would be in trouble for making such a costly mistake and gave the parcel back.
As a heartfelt thank you for giving back the diamonds she was presented with an amazing gift, a box of exquisite, fragrant chocolates that ultimately would change her course in life…
A world traveler and adventurer Melanie chose to study chocolate not just by studying confectionary chemistry and classic technique from the finest schools, but also direct from the origins, from the many cacao farms throughout Latin America.
There, by getting her own hands dirty, she learned about cultivating and harvesting cacao, the importance of proper fermentation and all the details that transform raw cacao beans into fine chocolate.
Today she cultivates about 100 cacao trees in Maui Hawaii on a farm that also grows vanilla orchids and provides educational farm tours about chocolate.
She is a shareholder in an early stage cacao farm in the Toledo district of Southern Belize called Serendipity Cacao Ltd.
Melanie serves on the board of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association and was a founding member of both the Hawaii Chocolate& Cacao Association and the Heirloom Cacao Preservation initiative of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association.
A recent return to her New Mexico roots was re- inspired through the discovery of cacao residue in pottery of the pueblo ruins of Chaco Canyon. Since New Mexico is a high desert it was clear that trade routes from Latin countries had been cultivated to bring the sacred cacao beans to the Anasazi people.
A love of the land and it’s history , a creative desire to explore the rich tapestry of regional flavors that give an area it’s distinctive “sense of place” and an eye for design are all brought together in Melanie’s Sweet Paradise Chocolatier and latest endeavor with partner Derek Lanter. Cacao, the Art & Culture of Chocolate in Santa Fe which delivers a total experience of chocolate beyond the wrapper.
Derek’s roots are from Aspen Colorado and later he moved to Oakland , CA where he mastered the fine art of coffee roasting in the family’s Uncommon Grounds coffee business when coffee first emerged from being a commodity to something craft and hip.
When the family later sold the business Derek moved on to finish a Business degree at The University of Hawaii with a focus on Asian studies.
Able to speak Japanese, he landed a sales and brand manager position with the fledgling Waialua Estate Chocolate and Coffee division of Dole,Hawaii. Cacao was a diversified AG project for Dole who shipped it’s beans to Guittard chocolate for processing into bars for retail and bulk use by chefs and restaurants.
Derek implemented new quality standards for the estate’s coffee and co- managed the 18 acre cacao orchard- the largest in Hawaii.
Under his guidance Waialua Estate grew significantly as a brand both for coffee and chocolate, even winning an export grant for selling in Japan and most recently a prestigious International Cocoa of Excellence award for its flavorful cacao beans.
Derek became involved with the craft chocolate bean to bar movement in Hawaii winning first place awards for his 70% chocolate dark bars made on small scale equipment.
He recently equipped Dole with equipment to produce their own bars on site rather than ship them to California.
He joins Cacao to further bring his creativity to his own bean to bar chocolate line based on Southwestern flavors and bring his coffee knowledge back to his Western roots.
Cacao, the Art & Culture of Chocolate will open Summer 2016 in the Richards Business park in the Siler Creative district, just 4 blocks to the new Meow Wolf arts experience , the Duel Brewing Company and 1 block from the acclaimed Adobe Rose Theatre.
At Cacao we will roast and grind fair or direct trade sourced cacao beans to make bars ,create delicious artistic confections from only the finest ingredients and carefully craft and blend our unique drinking chocolates.
We invite you to participate in one of our fun and educational ” Food of the Gods” workshops to make and taste chocolate from scratch while learning about its fascinating history . “Food of the God’s” will take place in our Gallery, a specially designed place that will transport you to the farm and let you see the steps in solved from taking an agricultural product to something delicious.
You will learn how to discern quality as we taste fine chocolates from our carefully curated collection of bars from small batch craft chocolate makers around the world. Much like a wine tasting you will taste and understand terrior as it relates to chocolate and learn about the the challenges faced by the chocolate industry to maintain fine flavor cacao.
Also take time to Explore our collection of quality chocolate themed gifts, including spa & body products, chocolate romance products, scented candles, flower garden seeds , packaged chocolate teas, handcrafted jewelry and logo wear .