—————————— Photography by Amanda Hakan
We're extraordinarily excited to introduce friend of the cacao pod, and long time RC collaborator, artist and chef Julia Ziegler-Haynes, and her latest project, Moiré.
By the end of The Dinner Bell series, she was pregnant with her daughter and upon her birth, Julia decided to take time off to get to know her. During this time she realized she no longer wanted to pull 18 hour days shopping and cooking and cleaning up for the masses--she wanted to concentrate her cooking skills down into one potent, tangible, packaged experience. Julia had always brought along her artist’s mind and social and environmental justice roots with her, and Moiré could be a place where all paths converge. A beautiful piece of edible art--with a conscience.
We met Ziegler-Haynes at her studio in LA where Moiré chocolates come to life, to talk about her process and love affair with cacao.
I think initially, part of the appeal of crafting bean-to-bar chocolate was the romance behind the bespoke nature of the final product. In college I studied printmaking, and part of what I frequently bumped up against was the concept of a seamless set of identical artworks or an “edition”. As a maker, I found those parameters to be stifling and hard to commit to and was far more relaxed and in touch with my creativity when I could be loose and create one of a kind works, or monoprints.
While that is not necessarily the case with the chocolate I make for Moiré, I do find a lot of excitement in the notion that no two batches will be identical. This is in part due to the nature of the raw materials themselves, for example, when the cocoa pods were harvested and what weather systems had rolled through while the cocoa beans were fermenting and drying. All of these elements will impart the flavors you can find in the finished chocolate.
It is a miraculous, alchemical dance that occurs before the cocoa even reaches my door. Then my role as the roaster begins and like a cartographer, through trial and error and proverbial brush and bramble, I chart my course to scale the peak of flavor, honing the texture and aroma.
The act of receiving the large jute sack of beans with such uniquely distinct qualities, and then rendering them, interpreting them, and knowing that even an identical roast on a different day, ground into chocolate with the same measurements could have its own signature–(sigh!) It excites me to no end.
For me it is the wild embodiment of presence, an amorphous time capsule that, much like wine, will soften and change with the passing of time.