Cuna de Piedra, a chocolate maker based in Mexico, is using local ingredients to elevate the public perception of Mexican cuisine. The company was started by two young professionals, Enrique Perez and Vicky Gonzalez, who share a commitment to raising the profile of heirloom ingredients indigenous to Mexico, as well as the role of cacao in the history of their culture.
From Big Dreams to Dream Team
Vicky and Enrique dared to dream big and ask “What if we create a brand with a humane sense that seeks to create a change in society and reposition the perception of Mexico?” They represent the next generation of fine chocolate entrepreneurs forming partnerships to strengthen the value chain and preserving heirloom foods with a modern approach. Fortunately, Enrique had been working with Chocosoulutions founder and master chocolatier Jorge Llanderal who also realized a “chocolate dream” of his own. Together with Executive Chef Mariana Garza, whose resume includes working in the kitchen of celebrity chef Richard Sandoval (commonly referred to as the Father of Modern Mexican Cuisine) at La Hacienda, they had assembled their dream team.
Preserving Mexico’s Culinary Heritage
Their limited-edition Smoked Heirloom Chili Bar exemplifies a sense of place through its ingredients. According to the description for this bar on Caputo’s website: “The native Mexican chiles, as these are progressively being displaced by other higher-yield and genetically engineered varieties.”
When this happens we limit our options to just a few varieties that can be found anywhere, losing the unique flavors and culinary traditions that define a particular place. During a time of pandemic-led isolation and travel restrictions, the longing to visit different places and experience unique local flavors is at an all time high. A sense of place is one of the key trends fine chocolate wholesaler/retailer Matt Caputo discussed in FCIA webinar on October 11, 2021 which The Chocolate Professor also wrote about in a recent blog.
In an exclusive video on Instagram, Cuna de Piedra’s Enrique Perez speaks to Gabino Aquino, who farms and harvests the chilis used in the chocolate. He shares the importance of preserving the unique flavors and culture of Mexican gastronomy. Click here to view the video.
Preserving culinary traditions, however, takes work and dedication by small farmers and commitment from culinary professionals and organizations like Slow Food to raise public awareness of heirloom ingredients.
The next video clip by Lalo Plascencia, Mexican chef and consultant, founder of CIG Mexico actually shows the labor-intesive process of deseeding and smoking the chilis, which Gabino described to Enrique. Click here to watch the video. (NOTE: Video’s music track could be loud, turn the volume down or mute, as needed.)
During the recent FCIA webinar hosted by Dr. Lee Theisen, a.k.a. @chocolate_guru, Cuna de Piedra chef, Mariana Garza explained adjustments to recipes are required working with ingredients such as this smoked heirloom chili.
Ironically, the chocolate most Mexicans find in their local markets or malls is not from their own country. It’s imported from the United States or Europe.
So, Cuna de Piedra needs to educate and expose the local palates to what authentic Mexican chocolate tastes like through tastings.
The U.S. market however, poses a different challenge for this Mexican craft chocolate company. Like most bean to bar chocolate makers, Cuna de Piedra lists the origin of the beans used in their chocolate bar on the wrapper. Unfortunately, most Americans are not aware that Tabasco is the place where the beans are harvested.
Click here to learn more about Tabasco from History.com. It’s definitely a place you will want to visit!
The mental association Americans have to Tabasco is the hot sauce and it’s so strong that attendees at the Northwest Chocolate Festival simply couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that the chocolate itself was not spicy.
Enjoy Cuna de Piedra & Share Your Thoughts
Are you curious how smoked chili chocolate tastes or would like to try chocolate from Tabasco, Mexico? Order a few bars from Caputo’s and be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comment section here, or on social media. They offer full size and mini bars, which are perfect for someone who can’t decide which ones to try first.
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