Blame it on France. That’s where Alan McClure first savored the chocolate that sparked his epiphany.
French chocolate was “so unlike anything I’d ever had here or even imagined could exist,” McClure says. “That changed my whole perspective on chocolate.”
McClure returned home to Columbia, where chocolate grew into an all-absorbing passion. He tasted more European and American bars, read books and called artisanal chocolate makers with questions. He experimented with cacao beans (the raw material for chocolate, pronounced kah-KAY-oh), wrote a business plan and searched out equipment.
In 2007 McClure opened Patric Chocolate and began making micro-batches of dark chocolate bars using organic cacao beans from Madagascar. Never heard of such a thing? You’re not alone. Nestle, Mars and other mass-production behemoths long dominated the U.S. chocolate industry until 1996.
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