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Transcendent Food

Transcendent Food

Hello and good day!

What do good food, good music, beautiful paintings, captivating photography, and great literature have in common?

They are all transcendent.

When you get caught up in them, they lift you out of time and space and take you into another world. I'd argue that this is the experience we are looking for in great art.

 Some songs you hear and they go in one ear and out the other.Other songs, you have to stop what you are doing because you are overcome with emotion. Or the song makes your body move, almost involuntarily. You forget yourself and you simply must dance.

Some paintings you walk right by. Others, you have to stop and stare and you almost can't pull yourself away from them. You have to keep looking. You get caught up in them.

That being the case, I think the expression "culinary arts" is certainly appropriate. Food is most definitely art. Really good food can make you forget where you are and what you are doing.

People can be talking all around you, but the noise fades into the background. You sit in your own little world with that food for a stretch of time and nothing else seems to matter.  

I remember back when we first got into the chocolate business, before we had even made any chocolate with the cacao we were buying and processing. We started making the rounds at chocolate industry association meetings telling folks that we had rediscovered a thought to be extinct variety of cacao.

We told them that 40% of the cacao was white on the inside and that the USDA genetics lab had called this an unprecedented discovery. We explained to them that we had built a centralized processing facility out in the jungle and that we were paying huge premiums to cacao farmers for their cacao.

This was all mildly interesting to the chocolate professionals we were pitching, but it didn't hit them in the heart, and we didn't make much headway towards any sales.

At one of these meetings, I met the CEO of Guittard Chocolate, Gary Guittard and he was kind enough to take an interest in our story and offer to make some samples for us. The sample he sent us was a 70% dark chocolate and it was the first time we tasted professionally manufactured chocolate made with our cacao.

The sample arrived at my dad's house and when I showed up, we opened the package together.I still remember the moment I tasted that chocolate. I remember it so clearly because as the chocolate melted onto my tongue, I felt the future rushing into me.

This is art.

Where I was and what I was doing faded away. It was just me and the chocolate and the future.The future was this chocolate. I didn't know what exactly that meant, but I knew what I felt. I knew how the experience had affected me.

It was transcendent.

It lifted me out of the physical environment and the boundaries imposed by time, at least for a few moments.When we finally ended up with our first shipment of chocolate, which was made in Switzerland and shipped to the United States, we started sending out samples along with information about our company and the good stuff we were doing in Peru.

When folks started tasting our chocolate, things changed.We started to get some orders. It was slow going at first, but we picked up steam as time went on.  Dry information alone doesn't move people.

But art does.

Once you've experienced good art, then you want information about it.You find a painting you like and then you want to know all about the painter.

Same with a great author or musician. Once you've experienced their output, then you want to know more about them and where they came from and how they became who they became. But if the work doesn't make an impact, the story loses a lot of its flair.

You can tell people about how you studied at Julliard and toured with some world renowned musician, but if your music doesn't move the audience when you start playing, your background matters a lot less.That is why for us, our number one responsibility to our customers is to make delicious chocolate.

We do a lot of good socially for the cacao farmers we work with. And we have fun in our shops and I genuinely enjoy writing these emails.

But none of it matters at all if the art doesn't move people.

If the chocolate doesn't taste great, and if it doesn't give you an excellent experience when you eat it, then it is all for naught.It is the easiest thing in the world as a business owner to get caught up in a million other things that aren't what really matters.

I'm sure this is the case for famous musicians and authors and painters as well. You can become a victim of your own success. You get pulled in a hundred directions and you forget to focus on the thing that matters most, what your customers or audience gets from your work.

What got me thinking about this is yesterday I tasted a couple of products that Javier, our chocolatier, came up with and they were just so good. They were simple and delicious and moving.

They took me out of time for little and I was so appreciative that he focuses on making things that are delicious.

Anyhow, I am running out of steam a bit now. Thank you so much for your time.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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