Story & Trailer
The film, titled Setting the Bar: A Craft Chocolate Origin Story, tells the story of chocolate from bean in the Amazon to bar in high-end cafes and stores. The film follows a group of craft-chocolate makers as they venture into the Peruvian jungle to strengthen direct relationships with farmer communities and identify new kinds of cacao to bring to market. It explores the economic realities of farmers and artisans, and captures the passion and sense of adventure of this inspiring group of people.
This project explores the intersection of food culture and sustainability. Consumers are increasingly attuned to food sourcing and production methods, and are more willing to pay a premium for sustainable and artisanal products. But does this create a better economic outcome for everyone involved? Will this help to support more environmentally sustainable agriculture practices? How can farmer livelihoods be improved? Our goal was to make a visually beautiful film that educates viewers on a popular food while at the same time exploring these questions.
Over the span of two years, we travelled to the Peruvian Amazon with a group of craft chocolate makers to search for cacao breeds that have never been cultivated for chocolate production. We took small planes over old growth rainforest, and navigated tributaries by boat to access remote areas of the jungle. Along the way, we met communities whose livelihoods are supported by cacao.
The footage we captured is beautiful and touching; we caught the passion of the chocolate makers, recorded the farmer’s personal stories, and investigated the impacts of deforestation in the Amazon.
Nate Hodge, co-owner of Raaka in Red Hook, New York
Ryan Berk, owner of Parliament Chocolate in Redlands, California
Elaine Read & Matt Weyandt, co-owners of Xocolatl in Atlanta, Georgia
Dan Rattigan, co-owner of French Broad Chocolate in Asheville, North Carolina
Greg D’Allesandre, Partner at Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, California
Steve Bergin, Cacao Expert and Environmentalist
Carmen Rosa Chavez, Director of Agricultural Business at the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture
Mark Christian, Director of Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP)
Simran Sethi, Award Winning Journalist and Author of Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love
William Vasquez Diaz, President of Coffee and Chocolate Cooperative In Peru: Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa Ltda
Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Celebrity Chef and Restaurant Owner in Lima, Peru
Julian Mendez Calderon, Field technician from Alianza Cacao, USAID cacao program
Dr. Lee Berk, Director of Loma Linda University’s Clinical Molecular and Psychoneuroimmunology Research Laboratory
Participants at Northwest Chocolate Festival, Seattle, Washington