Oh, how sweet it is!
As our featured December spotlight, we’re offering a behind-the-scenes tour of SLO’s local chocolate haven.
Tucked away on Monterey Street you’ll find a magical place: a real-life chocolate factory. Here, the air is permanently spiced with the earthy aroma of cocoa.
Enticed? Take a behind-the-scenes tour with us Dec 1. We are proud to spotlight Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates, and not just because each dollop of sweetness offers up such delectable flavor. The local business stands for the same principles we hold dear at the Co-op. Mama Ganache believes in leaving the world better than how we found it.
“We are dedicated to offering high quality, ethically sourced and ethically produced chocolates,” said Founder and Chef Tom Neuhaus. “All chocolate is either organic, fair trade or directly sourced. This is important to us.”
Yes, the master chocolate makers craft their morsels from single source beans grown around the world and obtained through direct trade. The small family-run chocolate business is located at 1445 Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo, CA, just off the freeway, and four doors down from Splash Cafe. Although the business no longer carries the “organic” certification, their products remain either organic, fair trade or directly sourced.
About the Founder
Chef Tom has an inquisitive mind and is forever playing with new ways to surprise and delight. He’s known for creating his own chocolate from single source beans grown around the world. Neuhaus truly embodies the intersection of art and science: he plays classical piano and he earned a PhD in Food Science from Cornell University. This enables him to understand how sounds, tastes, and aromas combine to produce a symphony of pleasurable sensations. Tom trained as a cook and baker in restaurants and bakeries in France and Austria. In 1974, he co-founded Sweetish Hill Bakery and Restaurant in Austin, TX. Then, he worked in New York City at Quo Vadis as Chef de Rang/Poissonier and at Tartuffo Ristorante as Executive Chef, and as Executive Chef at the Fifty States Restaurant in Washington DC. For seven years, he wrote a weekly column about food for the Washington Post. Chef Tom taught the science of cooking and baking for a total of 33 years at Cornell’s Hotel School and at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Since opening Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates in 2004, Tom has traveled to Africa twelve times to help West African cocoa farmers through his NGO, Project Hope and Fairness.His work there currently focuses on supplying the equipment villages need to make and sell chocolate from the beans they grow.
“I love bringing people to the village. We bring tools, drink the palm wine, and simply meet these amazing people,” Neuhaus said. “It’s like Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want to see the world,’ or as Cal Poly says, ‘Learn by doing.’”
Want to read more about Chef Tom? Read the SLO New Times article here.
The legacy continues
The baton—or the chocolate-covered spoon, as it were—has been passed to a new generation. Meet Ben Taylor, proprietor and head chocolatier at Stafford’s Chocolates.
Yes, you can now get Mama Ganache and Stafford’s Chocolates from the same website.
“As kids, our pockets full of change from our weekly allowance, we’d make a beeline to Stafford’s Famous Chocolates in our small town of Porterville, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. We’d visit with Larry Stafford himself and came to know first-hand the passion he poured into his sweet treats and remarkable shop,” said owner and chocolatier Ben Taylor.
In 2011, the family realized their dream to carry on the Stafford legacy, and have since been working hard to provide the high quality and attention to craft for which Stafford’s Chocolates is known.
“We continue to value partnerships with our local growers of nuts, fruits, and dairies, and to deliver our finest for you, our sweet-toothed fans, in person and conveniently online,” Taylor added.