A little introduction
In case you don’t know us yet, let us introduce ourselves. We are Britt and Ricardo, the couple behind Fundido Chocolatier, and this is our (love)story.
Born in Belgium, the country known for its pralines, Britt thought she knew everything about chocolate, but nothing could be further from the truth. Ricardo, who grew up in Venezuela and moved to Europe to study, was never a big fan of chocolate. Besides, sweets never fitted into the healthy lifestyle he built up since childhood. Does chocolate have to be so sweet, though?
Living together in Belgium for a couple of years and eliminating more and more refined sugar from our daily diet, we developed our love for DARK CHOCOLATE and the taste of PURE CACAO. As we uncovered Venezuela’s potential as a cacao bean producer, we also discovered the dark side of the industry, such as modern slavery and deforestation. Our findings fuelled our enthusiasm to get started with chocolate ourselves, doing it in a healthy way and following the bean-to-bar principles.
Coming from very different fields (architecture and engineering), we decided to gain more knowledge about chocolate and to meet up with experienced people in the sector (they are the sweetest!). In March 2023, Ricardo finished his studies on ‘Bean-to-Bar Entrepreneurship of Cacao in Latin America’ at the University of Simón Bolivar in Caracas. In September 2022, Britt started evening school in Bruges to become an artisanal chocolatier. By the way, do you know what a chocolatier is?
You might wonder if we are just going to be another chocolatier making candy? Well, not exactly. The candy part is not intended. Let us elaborate a bit more on this.
The chocolate confections (pralines, truffles, bars, figures, etc.) you find in most of the stores in Belgium – here we have to include ALL the tourist traps – are made of industrial chocolate. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? Most of the artisanal chocolatiers do not make the chocolate themselves or do not even use artisanal chocolate to make their products. This is like getting supermarket pasta in an Italian restaurant.
So, a chocolatier isn’t necessarily a chocolate maker and most of them are actually very far from being one. They buy cheaper bulk couverture chocolate produced by gigantic manufacturers to use as raw material. Their products are called candies and here is where we want to make a difference. We will briefly explain to you in two steps what we aim to do and how.
Step 1: selling chocolate bars
In the past years we started to buy food in a more conscious way: healthy, biological, fairtrade, local… Step by step, we changed our mindset on food consumption, we discovered (and are still discovering) new products and started to support local producers instead of the big brands. What about you guys?
‘Every Time You Spend Money, You’re Casting A Vote For The Kind Of World You Want.’ – Anna Lappé
To not fall into the greenwashing or ‘healthy’ trap, you always have to do some research and check the label of each product. We want to sell chocolate with a warranty: qualitative, honest, healthy and handcrafted or, as we call it, COMFORT FOOD WITHOUT GUILT.
Bean-to-bar chocolate is usually not available in the regular shops in Belgium (supermarkets, bio shops or chocolate specialty shops). We want to facilitate easy access to chocolate (from regional, national and international chocolate makers) that is as much as possible in line with the bean-to-bar principles.
Bean-to-bar isn’t a protected label – every chocolate is in principle made ‘from bean to bar’ – but we do the research and selection for you and we are transparent about it. We give as much information as possible about the history, origin, harvest, post-harvest and production process, the ingredients, nutritional value and natural flavours of each chocolate bar we offer.
And you know what, the artisanal chocolate makers really deserve more attention. In many ways, they and their products are EX-TRA-OR-DI-NA-RY!
Step 2: making pralines
Oh yes, we have a bigger plan! While we are supplying bean-to-bar chocolate through our webshop and organising tastings to amaze people with the real flavour (or should we say FLAVOURS) of the crafted chocolate, we are also experimenting ourselves in the kitchen. We are making pralines with bean-to-bar chocolate and trying out different flavour combinations for the fillings. Along with this, we are experimenting and mastering the chocolate-making process with Venezuelan cacao beans. Our goal is to make delicious confections that are also nutritious for you (and they don’t necessarily have to be SWEET).
What a journey! To be continued…