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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11/11 - From the Source - Cocoa Beans and Matcha

Our two  guests this week on Slow Living Radio, make the term, "getting your hands dirty" trite.  They are both so passionate about their culinary "art", they have travelled the world to get to the ultimate source of their ingredients. 

Chris Kollar, of Kollar Chocolates, recently traded his chef coat for workers overalls and worked with the bean pickers in the Dominican Republic to learn the essence of their trade. Eric Gower, who owns Breakaway Matcha Green Tea, became so deeply interested in Matcha that he scours the globe to find the very best sources.

Chef Chris Kollar, Kollar Chocolates
Chef Kollar’s Trip to The Dominican Republic Cocoa Plantations

Chef Kollar just came back from his exclusive trip to the Dominican Republic where he was invited by the Michel Cluizel chocolate company to tour the Rizek family cocoa plantation. Five other pastry chefs from New York City came along, including the executive pastry chef from TriBeCa grill NYC, the executive pastry chef from Oceana Restaurant (Livanos restaurant group), the pastry chef from One If By Land, Two If By Sea, the pastry Chef from Bouchon Bakery New York and the executive Pastry Chef of The Four Seasons Restaurant.

The cocoa plantation was established in 1898 when Salím and Altagracia Rizek left behind their home in Nazaret to establish themselves in the flourishing birthplace of the New World. Today, Nazario Rizek owns vast plantations and has over 9,000 small affiliated producers. It has placed him as the largest and the best quality cocoa producer and exporter in the country. Chef Kollar walked the plantation with the owners, met the farmers and learned more about the process of making chocolate from the bean. It is harvest time in the Dominican Republic and Chef experienced working with the local farmers, hand-picking pods and shoveling dried beans. Those dried beans are shipped all over the world where a few companies process the beans into premium quality chocolate that we then use to make our confections. All the Chefs invited to this exclusive trip participated in a competition where they used local ingredients to make chocolate and this one-of-a-kind event was covered by national press and media. Chef came back from the Dominican Republic with a lot of great memories and creative energy and can’t wait to share his new ideas with you!

Kollar Chocolates is located in V Marketplace at 6525 Washington St, Yountville, CA, 94599. For additional information, you can contact them at or 707-738-8353.

Eric Gower

Breakaway Matcha was founded in 2010 by author and chef Eric Gower. Breakaway Matcha specializes in sourcing, custom blending, and distributing the highest-quality matcha on earth. They also design and offer special matcha ceramics and other teaware to enhance the enjoyment of this very special tea, and provide ongoing support and training in matcha preparation to many of the most respected and emulated restaurants in the world. 
The main goal of Breakaway Matcha is to make great matcha accessible to anyone who would like to experience a green tea that rivals great wine in  omplexity, nuance, and flavor, and whose health properties are legendary.
About Eric Gower
Eric is an author, ghostwriter, editor, cooking instructor, and private chef. He writes a popular column for the San Francisco Chronicle called "The Breakaway Cook," maintains a popular blog of the same name, and is the author of four cookbooks: The Breakaway Vegetarian Cook, The Breakaway Cook, The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, and Eric’s Kitchen. He lives and works in Marin County, just north of San Francisco.
Eric brings a lifetime of unusual experiences to his unusual cooking. Stints include:

· columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle

· founder and principal of Breakaway Matcha, purveyors of the highest-quality artisanal matcha (Japanese ceremonial green tea)

· editor and principle writer for the popular and lively Breakaway Cook blog

· judge on the Food Network hit television series, “Iron Chef”

· columnist for Yahoo! Food

· assistant winemaker, Judd’s Hill (premier Napa vintner)

· founding "vook" contributor (cooking videos for popular video publisher)

· editor and speechwriter, Prime Minister's Office, government of Japan

· coordinator for foreign legal scholars at the Osaka Bar Association 

· voice work for dozens of Japanese commercials

· founder and editor of NIRA Review, a quarterly journal of opinion on issues concerning public policy

· researcher and editor at the National Institute for Research Advancement, Japan’s leading think tank on public policy

· assistant editor (to James Fallows) at The Atlantic Monthly

· nonstop traveler – 20 years of extended travel to every country in Asia

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