GUITTARD CHOCOLATE, now celebrating 150 years as one
of America’s first Artisan Chocolate Makers, has made an art of standing for the integrity of traditional chocolate while
simultaneously forging the path of chocolate’s future.
The dynamic nature of the company is genetically driven, given the fact that founder Etienne Guittard spontaneously chose chocolate making over a stake in the California Gold Rush when he ventured from Tournus, France, back in the 1800’s, and discovered that wealthy miners were happy to pay a premium for his Uncle’s European chocolate.
Guittard Chocolate, distinctive both for its rare varietals of couverture and California “local” identity, has always known that innovation without integrity is mute. Historically, the Guittard’s have been facile at championing both.
As farmers and industry strive for higher yields and disease resistance, Guittard plays a critical role in training and empowering cocoa breeders in producing countries to recognize and protect their historic flavor profiles. Guittard focuses on improving yields without compromising flavor.
The Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate campaign, originated by Gary Guittard in 2007, prioritized the preservation, flavor, rheology, and heritage of chocolate. This campaign garnered over 30,000 signatures and succeeded by convincing the FDA to keep non-cocoa vegetable fat out of its “Standard of Identity” for chocolate. Without such campaigns and legislation, precious ingredients suffer the risk of quality dilution which ultimately affects the authenticity of chocolate characteristics at the core.
The new generation of Guittard now on the scene is helping to fuel the company’s objective of maintaining chocolate integrity by preserving its essential spectrums of flavor. Amy Guittard, (Full Title here) explains:
“Whether we’re implementing flavor labs in Ghana or Cote d’Ivoire with local governments, working with farmers on their post-harvest practices or fighting to preserve the standards of identity for chocolate, we’re focused on flavor as value—celebrating it so that a positive ripple effect can ensue throughout the industry.” – Amy Guittard, Director of Marketing
The careful handling of the crop from growing and harvesting to fermenting and drying are crucial steps in forming flavors. Guittard beans come from small farms all over the globe including small farms all over the globe including Ecuador, Madagascar, and Ghana, where generations of farmers have carried on the long tradition of providing a livelihood for their families by cultivating flavorful beans that make their way into Guittard Chocolate.
Proudly pro-farmer, Guittard Chocolate Company recognizes that cacao farming is an art unto itself. “We look at it as artist (farmer) to artist (Guittard) to artist (pastry chef.) What we all share is an inherent respect for quality and flavor,” shares Amy Guittard.
Within Guittard Chocolate’s rich history, the company has blazed a trail of many firsts in the industry, such as being the first chocolate company to introduce Single Origins in the US, the first to be FT Certified, and Guittard truly stands out for offering a variety of distinctive styles, a unique distinction for a chocolate couverture company. With all of this, Guittard
Executive Pastry Chef Donald Wressell, a key player in the company’s present and future, shares an important element of Guittard that many are unaware of.
“One of our biggest attributes that is often overlooked is Guittard’s ‘Collection Etienne’ which is Non-GMO, Fair Trade and Sustainable. After 150 years of making chocolate, Guittard has created chocolate choices for all applications, while also keeping in mind long-term sustainability.”
To add fire to the innovative flame, Pastry Chef Wressell is also passionate about educating professionals on the variety of styles designed to meet the unique demands of pastry kitchens.
“Different chocolates suit different applications. Often, there is confusion in this regard, which creates vulnerability in terms of chocolates that do not fit where they are applied. It is our
mission to steer pastry chefs in the right direction to achieve the ultimate results.”
What the Guittard family continues to bring to the world of chocolate is a true love and devotion to the craft, making beautiful tasting chocolate and preserving the places and communities behind what they make. Impeccable cacao, integrity, and innovation continue to be the fundamental recipe for Guittard’s success, 150 years and counting.
“We look at farmers as artists. We strive to protect these artists which in turn harnesses the flavor of our high-end ingredient. We look at it as artist (farmer) to artist (Guittard)
to artist (pastry chef.) What weall share is an
inherent respect for quality and flavor.”
– Amy Guittard