I first met Kris Recarde Saada on July 10, 2014. She attended a chocolate demonstration by Jacques Dahan of Chocolat Michel Cluizel that we held in our kitchen at the Queen Anne store. She has been a devoted customer ever since.
While I can’t take credit for introducing Kris to craft chocolate, I can take credit for her friendship with one of our other customers, Samantha Reynolds. Samantha was also at the Cluizel demonstration, and she liked the questions Kris was asking. She walked up to Kris when it was over and said, “I liked your questions. We should be friends.” The rest is history. The two of them were a common sight at our store in Queen Anne. They would meet at Chocolopolis for cups of drinking chocolate before heading somewhere for dinner, and then back to Chocolopolis for more chocolate.
Kris and her husband both love chocolate so much that they host an annual dessert party that really should be called a “chocolate” party. Kris’ husband likes working with chocolate to create cakes, ice creams and other chocolate treats. Kris wasn’t satisfied with making desserts from chocolate, so she decided to make chocolate from the bean in micro batches for friends and family. She keeps her tabletop refining equipment in a cottage on their property, which has become known as “The Chocolate Cottage”. I had the pleasure of visiting this chocolaty oasis a few weeks ago and checking out Kris’ equipment.
Like so many craft chocolate makers, Kris got her start in micro-batch chocolate making by visiting the Chocolate Alchemy website where she purchases equipment and cacao beans and gets advice from the Chocolate Alchemist, John Nanci. She has a Spectra tabletop melangeur for refining and conching, and she uses a Champion Juicer to pre-grind the cacao into chocolate before putting it into the Spectra for refining. She stores the roasted cacao beans she purchases from Chocolate Alchemy in her wine cellar, resulting in the best smelling wine cellar I’ve ever visited. It’s heavenly.
When Kris is not making chocolate she is pursuing her other passion, rally car racing. When I learned this, my reaction was, “I never would have guessed.” It’s kind of like Superman and Clark Kent – an unexpected surprise.
Here’s more about Kris in her own words.
What’s your favorite bar of chocolate right now?
My current go-to bar is the Ritual Camino Verde 75%. Well-crafted bars made with Ecuadorian cacao have been winning my heart since my first encounter with them on a trip to South America a few years ago. They tend to be my personal benchmark for assessing bars from other regions.
Do you have a favorite bar of all time?
Enzo Ferrari is reported to have said, when asked what he thought the greatest Ferrari of all time was, “The greatest Ferrari ever is the one we have yet to build. The next one.” That idea captures how I feel about craft chocolate and what’s possible with it. My favorite bar of all time will likely be the next one that amazes me, and the one after that, and so on.
How did you discover Chocolopolis?
It was a handsome Frenchman that lured me to it. I had just moved to the area and was looking for a place to buy some of the excellent European bars I’d discovered at Richmond, Virginia’s For the Love of Chocolate. I found Chocolopolis online and saw that the president of Michel Cluizel USA, Jacques Dahan, was giving a talk and tasting there. It seemed like a fine way to spend an afternoon, so I attended the talk, bought way too much amazing chocolate that day, and have been an enthusiastic and grateful patron of Chocolopolis ever since.
What do you do when you’re not tasting chocolate?
When I’m not obsessing over great chocolate, attempting to make it myself, or experimenting with how to bake with it, I’m often tinkering in the kitchen, obsessing over brewing the perfect cup of coffee, or out racing rally cars. I also have a busy and complicated family and household to run, so that tends to eat up a bit of my chocolate play time.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Learning to make chocolate at home was eye-opening and gave me a far greater appreciation of the work and attention it takes to make a great bar. Playing with chocolate is a wonderful hobby because it’s both demanding and forgiving, and the results, even when they’re not perfect, are delicious. The taste tests and samples of fresh chocolate also make you quite popular with friends and family.
Happy Hour samples chosen by Kris: