Chocolate Conference Coming to Kauai March 13-15

HCCA, The Hawaii Chocolate and Cacao Association, Hawaii's statewide nonprofit industry education and advocacy group, announces their 2015 Annual Conference, to be held on Kauai Friday through Sunday, March 13-15. The educational conference is open to all. For more information and to register, visit the HCCA website, www.hawaiichocolate.org.

According to HCCA President Derek Lanter, "Hawaii is the only state where you can grow theobroma cacao, the chocolate tree, and that gives our state a head start in becoming a major chocolate-growing region. We have the opportunity to blaze the same trail for chocolate that northern California's wine country blazed for wine. As California did for wine grapes, Hawaii offers ideal growing conditions for chocolate trees, plus abundant land, and favorable climate."

The HCCA conference opens on Saturday, March 14, with visits to Kauai cacao farms and a series of educational workshops. Workshops of interest to cacao farmers include how to start a cacao orchard, and how to combat common pests such as the rose beetle. For chocolate makers, workshops will teach the trade secrets of cacao bean roasting, as well as how to temper finished chocolate to prevent melting at room temperature, and give chocolate that bright snapping sound when the bar is broken into bite-sized pieces.

On Sunday, March 15, the Conference moves to the Kauai Veterans Center in Lihue. Beginning at 9AM, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho is scheduled to welcome conference attendees to Kauai, and to present his administration's vision for Kauai's sustainable agriculture future.

Following the Mayor's address, the Conference will feature a presentation by American chocolate industry leader Gary Guittard, President of Guittard Chocolate in Burlingame, California, one of the country's premier producers of high-quality chocolate products.

Next, Greg D'alesandre of Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco will discuss his company's economic strategy to position Dandelion Chocolate at the forefront of the highly successful artisanal, small-batch, single-origin chocolate movement.

The third presenter at the HCCA Conference on Sunday will be Dr. Chifumi Nagai, a researcher at the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC) on Oahu. Dr. Nagai's work focuses on cacao tree genetics, with a view toward providing Hawaii cacao farmers with high-value, high-yield varieties.

More about the presenters:

Gary Guittard is President of Guittard Chocolate in California. A fourth-generation member of a chocolate-making family whose history goes back to the 1860's, Gary is an industry leader in his global efforts to promote the sustainability of the environments of cacao-growing regions, as well as the well being of cacao farmers. In addition to Guittard's focus on sustainability, under Gary's leadership the company has spearheaded the movement toward fine-flavor cacao, manufacturing chocolate products that reflect the terroir of the various regions throughout the world where cacao beans are grown. Gary has served as a mentor to Hawaii cacao farmers, and HCCA is grateful for his support of our state's growing chocolate industry.

Greg D'alesandre has been working with chocolate for over fifteen years, and making chocolate for the last few. He started making liquid nitrogen truffles in college with equipment "borrowed" from the physics lab.  He's been with Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, one of the country's most prominent bean-to bar artisanal chocolate producers for three years as partial owner and Chocolate Sourcerer, traveling the world to find great cacao to use to make great chocolate.  He feels strongly about direct sourcing cacao and building strong relationships with the network of cacao producers and chocolate makers around the world.  While his background is in electrical engineering and product management, he's been using these skills to help keep the factory up and running.

Derek Lanter, HCCA President, is a Founding Member of the Association, and manager of Dole Waialua Estate Coffee and Chocolate on Oahu, one of Hawaii's largest cacao producers. Derek is a master coffee roaster and budding chocolate maker and is in charge of processing, quality control, product and brand development and distribution for Waialua Estate Chocolate and Coffee. In 1985 Derek’s family started Uncommon Grounds Coffee Company, a gourmet roasting operation in Berkeley, California, and a leader in the rising specialty coffee industry. As green coffee buyer, Derek traveled to coffee-producing countries throughout the world to source and distribute green and roasted coffee. 

Founded in 2012, Hawaii Chocolate and Cacao Association (HCCA’s) mission is to promote the emerging chocolate and cacao industry in Hawaii. We work diligently to assure the health of our industry and provide education and information to our members and the public.  For more information about the HCCA please go to www.hawaiichocolate.org and also follow us on Facebook.

Media Contact: Tony Lydgate, HCCA Conference Chair, c/o Steelgrass Farm, Kauai. 808-821-1857; info@steelgrass.org