General News

FCIA Member Attends Son’s Career Day, Brings Chocolate With Ants

By Michelle Zimmerman

With the permission of my 13-year-old son Clark, I signed up to talk to his 8th grade class for the school’s Career Day. At first, he was hesitant, but when I told him I would be bringing chocolate, he felt a little better about the whole thing. 

It’s not easy getting 13- and 14-year-olds to be engaged in any discussion, let alone one about chocolate. But I had something up my sleeve that I knew would get them involved—a bar of chocolate with ants! 

The morning started with me giving the students a bit of background about me and how I won a scholarship in high school to attend culinary school. Then, I showed them a slideshow with pictures of all the wedding and birthday cakes I’ve made over the past 20 years. They loved the opportunity to talk about their favorites and vote for the cakes they liked best. We talked about finances and how much money is takes to run a business like my company, Curating Taste in Phoenix, and how much money someone can make in this industry. Then came the fun stuff!

General News

Women in Chocolate: Young FCIA Member Shares Her Passion for Chocolates

Amelie Khachatryan is a young Armenian girl with a passion for chocolates. That passion has led her to where she is today—the founder and CEO of L’Amélie Chocolatier, a chocolate company that specializes in making colorful designer bonbons.

As a child, Khachatryan was fascinated by chocolates, and she  remembers spending hours with working with her mother—her company specialized in making pastry and cakes—experimenting with various ingredients and creating unique chocolate recipes. As she grew up, her passion for chocolates continued to grow. It wasn’t long until she knew she wanted to pursue chocolates as a career. 

“That’s when the idea to start a chocolate company came to me,” Khachatryan says. “I wanted to create chocolates that were not just delicious but also visually appealing.”

When Khachatryan, now 23, started experimenting with different colors and designs, she started to gain a better understanding of what she could create. She spent months perfecting her recipes, and the result was a range of colorful designer bonbons she said looked as good as they tasted. 

General News

Kathy & Terry Wakefield Host Wine and Chocolate Dinner

In mid-February, two FCIA members, Kathy and Terry Wakefield, hosted a wine & chocolate dinner at the Defiance Ridge Vineyard in Defiance, Missouri. The event featured seven courses that contained some form of chocolate—dark chocolate, natural cocoa, dark chocolate microchips, cacao nibs and white chocolate. The array of dishes highlighted chocolate as a savory spice as well as a sweet confection.  

Guittard 72% Coucher du Soleil dark chocolate was selected as the foundational chocolate for the event since it provides solid chocolate notes without distracting bitterness. Foodies were obviously excited about pairing great wine, chocolate and food—the 120-person event sold out in less than a week. 

Chuck Gillentine, owner of the vineyard, kicked off the evening with an introduction to the wines that would be served during the evening. Then, Chef Chris orchestrated fabulous gastronomic experiences showcasing complex and layered flavors, textures and visual presentations. This inspired several of catathe guests to enthusiastically proclaim that their dining experience was one of the best in their lives.

General News

Curating Taste Hosts Sold Out Chocolate & Mezcal Pairing Event

By Michelle Zimmerman

Being a year into starting my business, Curating Taste, I am always hunting for new opportunities to share my passion for craft chocolate. While driving around downtown Phoenix, I came across a place called The Garden Bar, which calls itself a “warm and welcoming neighborhood garden to glass cocktail bar” located in an adapted 1914 California bungalow in the Roosevelt South area. Patrons sit in various rooms, and there is also an outdoor dog-friendly patio and porch. 

From the moment I saw it, The Garden Bar looked like a perfect place for a Curating Taste event. Its offerings include a curated collection of seasonal cocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic options, as well as charcuterie. I decided to introduce myself to the owner, Kim Hassarud, and she said she would love to host a chocolate and mezcal pairing event. Kim introduced me to Abel Arriaga, the owner of Compa Spirits, a Mexican American owned distribution company founded in 2018 with the goal of supporting families from Oaxaca that are building their mezcal brands in the U.S. In fact, the company now supports multiple families across most of Mexico.  

General News

FCIA Launches Fine Chocolate Glossary

After more than a year of cross-continental teamwork, and collaboration with more than 30 experts around the world, the Fine Chocolate Industry Association is thrilled to announce that the Fine Chocolate Glossary is now live. 

The Glossary is a solution to a common challenge for anyone who works in cocoa or chocolate, or who is on a journey of learning about them: the face that we all may mean different things when using terms related to fine chocolate.

We could be talking about anything from cocoa agroforestry to the fine chocolate value chain, but it would be very difficult to know if what we mean when we say ‘agroforestry’ or ‘value chain’ is the same as what someone else means when they use those terms. 

We may think we understand one another, but sometimes we just need a little help communicating. Now that the Glossary is live, we all have access to a thought-leadership tool that solves these communication challenges.

At launch, the Glossary includes more than 250 terms—about 14 percent have completed entries. The Glossary team expects to bring the entry completion rate to about 25 percent by the end of April. Entries will continue to be authored by invited experts and will be subject to ongoing review and revision by FCIA members and external stakeholders. 

Dr. Kristy Leissle, the Glossary’s main architect and author of the book Cocoa, says that she uses fine chocolate terminology all the time to communicate effectively. The Glossary solves a real challenge in that communication by giving everyone a shared reference for what those terms mean, she adds. 

Every Glossary entry is authored by an expert in their field and gives an example to illustrate how the term is used in the real world. Collectively, contributors’ experience spans North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and their expertise runs deep in both cocoa and chocolate.

FCIA Board President Lauren Adler says she often finds herself discussing chocolate concepts with colleagues using the same terms, but meaning different things. The Glossary creates standard definitions for chocolate terms and concepts so that everyone is starting their discussion on the same page. It’s an exciting development in our ability to have meaningful conversation around key issues impacting fine chocolate.

As the Glossary continues to grow, we look forward to including an ever-more diverse set of voices, and experts from every corner of the fine chocolate ecosystem. 

We invite you to explore the Glossary today and make your own contribution whenever you’re ready.

For more information about the Glossary, email

For more information about the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, contact Executive Director Ephi Maglaris at

The Fine Chocolate Glossary was created in partnership with TSIRO and MOCCA. 

General News

Cacao Latitudes: The MOCCA Series – A Monthly Feature

By Valentina Bosia

It was during the spring of 2009 when, as a young gastronomic sciences student in Italy, I tasted my very first piece of fine chocolate.

It was a bar of Venezuelan Chuao, a blast of pine nuts and dulce de leche and an auspicious and buttery revelation of flavor possibilities yet to be explored. And just like that, on that very day, my professional path was set.

Many factors differentiate fine cacao from what is commonly referred to as “bulk”. Here at Cacao Latitudes, I am responsible for monitoring what is perhaps one of the most striking factors: flavor.

What are we talking about when we talk about flavor in fine chocolate? And why do we foster the conviction that flavor holds the redeeming key to unlocking the market potential of specialty cacao? We are far from alone in holding this belief.