Hello and good day!
Baked salmon with lemon and capers. That dish taught me the importance of gratitude. I was at my best friend's house eating dinner. I ate at his house all the time growing up.
Both of my parents were entrepreneurs who worked long hours. I was lucky to get one home cooked meal a week at my place. Usually on Sunday nights my dad would cook something for the family, and we'd watch TV while eating picnic style on our living room floor.
It was an eccentric set up.
The rest of the week, I fended for myself, which mostly meant eating frozen microwave food. That's why I was frequently over at my friend's house trying to scrounge up some home cooking.My best friend's mom was a wonderful person and she loved to cook.
She and her husband raised 5 kids. My best friend was the youngest. I recall many occasions when my friend's mom tried to roll out a new recipe only to have her children complain and turn their noses up at the food.It was hard for me to believe.
Turn your nose up at a home cooked meal? Never! I devoured everything put in front of me with great relish.
I remember when I'd come up for air, I'd look over at Kathy, and she be sitting there with her hands clasped in front of her and a great big smile on her face. "Oh Adam!" she used to say. "I love when you come over to eat. Would you like seconds?"
The question was a formality. She knew I always took seconds.
The night of the salmon and capers, Kathy brought out the platter with gusto and satisfaction. She was proud of what she prepared and happy with how it turned out.
My best friend was a good kid. He is still my best friend to this day. He is a true sweetheart. But that night when his portion was put in front of him, he poked a caper with a single prong of his fork and lifted the caper up in front of his eyes to take a closer look.
He held it there and closed one eye to look at it like a jeweler looking through a jeweler's loupe. "What's this?" he said in a whiny voice. Then he poked his tongue out for an exploratory taste of the caper's skin. "This is weird," he said. "Can we make hot dogs? Meanwhile, young Adam was shoveling capers into his mouth with the serving spoon.
Here is what I think. If I lived in that house, I probably would have taken Kathy for granted too. It was only because I didn't get home cooked meals all the time that I appreciated them so much.
It is a strange state of affairs, but it appears to be how things work unless you intentionally resist the status quo. When you fall into a routine, you start taking it for granted that things will happen automatically. And then things don't feel as special.
You might even find yourself complaining about something that is actually a good thing, like the cook in your house experimenting with new recipes.
I think I was 10 years old when the salmon incident occurred, and from that moment on I started trying my best to always say thank you and give compliments. Even when I was a real ragamuffin of a kid, getting bad grades and acting crazy, I maintained this habit and it served me very well.
Nowadays, I still try my best to give thanks as often as possible.
Along those lines, I'd like to give you a few stats.We buy cacao from about 500 small cacao farms in northern Peru. Many of the farmers live in towns located behind rivers that require crossing a rickety bridge to get to.
See the photo of Noe on a an old bridge, When we buy cacao in those villages, these bridges have to be navigated and it is sometimes very dicey.
During the cacao harvest, we employ 35 - 40 full time workers, many of whom have been with us since our very first harvest. They are the ones out navigating these bridges and bringing cacao back to our processing facility day in and day out. They are the ones who manage our post-harvest processing, namely fermenting, drying, storage, and transportation.
This must be done with extreme attention to detail in order to make great chocolate. My brother Brian lived in the jungle full time for more than ten years. Those ten years happened to be the first ten years of his oldest child's life.
Here in the United States, we have around 20 employees, a mix of part time and full-time team members. They work hard day in and day out, making our products and taking care of our wonderful customers.
Not a single bar of our chocolate would be available without our 500 cacao farm family partners, our 35-40 full time employees in Peru, or our 20-person team here in the United States.
Meanwhile, I get to see little kids in our store eating free frozen bananas dipped in chocolate just about every day. I love a lot of things about hanging out in our shops, but a little kid with chocolate smeared all over their face is my favorite.
It just cracks me up. But a little kid with chocolate on their face doesn't happen in a vacuum.
It happens because hundreds of people work very hard all day every day.
Because we've been in business for 15 years and we've been through many cacao harvests now, it would be easy to take it for granted that it will just keep happening the way it always has.
But we know that isn't the case. We have to continue to push the envelope on how much we pay our cacao farm partners.
We have to continue to provide great service to our wonderful customers.
We have to continuously refine our operating model so that we can provide great products at a fair price.
There will never be an appropriate time to assume that things are just fine. We always have to show our appreciation through proper action. And of course, we rely greatly on our wonderful customers.
None of it would be possible without you.
Because of you a lot of people have jobs and a lot of cacao farmers have been able to improve their lives. And of course, I get to see kids with chocolate on their faces.
Thank you for your time, your support, and your business.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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