From Farm to Award-Winning Bars: The Cleveland Chocolate Story

Rebecca Hess of Cleveland Chocolate is a professionally trained chef with over 15 years in the hospitality industry who fell in love with chocolate. Growing up on a blueberry farm, she had always juggled her fair share of food hobbies and even beekeeping.

While working as a personal chef for a client, she subscribed to a fruit delivery service called Miami Fruit and kept receiving fresh cacao pods. She decided to use the pods to make a batch of chocolate from start to finish – fermenting, dehydrating, roasting, hand cracking and winnowing, then grinding them in a tabletop stone melanger.

Shortly after that, Rebecca enrolled in Melissa Coppel Chocolate and Pastry School in Nevada. After attending a few courses and drafting a business plan, she found the perfect start-up location in 2020. Three years later, she bought a larger facility to increase production and won a Good Food Award and 5 International Chocolate Awards (2 silver and 3 bronze).

Rebecca loves to let the fruit shine in her bar and to offer an approachable flavor profile that focuses on the natural flavors of the bean being used. The simplistic quality approach used in sourcing the best quality ingredients and allowing them to really shine through in her craft is the same philosophy she has used as a chef.

Chocolate-making is a craft of love and patience. The steps involved in making chocolate are methodical, and you have to really enjoy the process because it can feel like groundhog day sometimes. Waiting for the chocolate to conche and adjusting cacao percent and side-by-side tastings are a must and can be hard at times to wait for the finished product, but the result is worth the wait.

As a new chocolatier, Rebecca is humble and eager to learn about this craft she has jumped headfirst into. Undoubtedly, her future is bright as her success and accolades continue to grow.

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