“Since I was a very little boy I can still recall being part of the cocoa world. As soon as the age of 9 my cocoa trips included cocoa pulp buckets half filled. I was happy to see my family working and the fact that they allowed me to help the little I could. However, as time went by, I started realising that from all the hard routine work cocoa involves, very little profit was made, so I got disappointed especially when my father said to me that being here wasn’t going to take me far, and that it was better to pursuit a university career.
I was 16 years old, and coincidentally at my high school some people carried out a documentary on the life and culture in my town, Panaquire. I was chosen to featured in it because of my cocoa knowledge and I had a small participation on cocoa harvest and post-harvest, they also introduced me to a local chocolatier called ‘ChacaChaca’ and it was at that moment that the seed of curiosity about cocoa transformation into chocolate started growing in my head. However, I could find very little information and some of it was in other languages. I was later asked to prepare a presentation on cocoa transformation and thanks to that a teacher took us to a trip to a chocolate processing factory called ‘Cimarrón’ in the El Mango area. There I was able to see all the machinery and process involved in cocoa transformation into chocolate bars. It was there when we were told that Venezuelan cocoa was the best in the world and that our chocolates were poured onto other to make them better. These memories stayed on my head and I decided to learn and become not only a cocoa bean expert but also a chocolatier.
Misfortune became an advantage for me, when in an occasion I spotted a bandit stealing cocoa pods from my family’s farm which forced me, driven by rage, to shoot him but knowing it was just a minor injury as I just shot him to scare him away. However, he turned out to be the gang’s chief bandit cousin, I was forced to leave my house for 6 years but in the meantime I turn to courses and books to learn about chocolate.
Life will always lead you where you should go, I’ve always believed in that, and in 2015 the Miranda government held a cocoa and artisan chocolate fair in Caracas which I attended, I met chocolatier Marisol Novoa and she became my mentor, she would register me in chocolate courses where I could learn the basic skills to learn about the chocolate business and develop my own chocolate brand.
Nowadays, I thank God that I have the necessary knowledge to be in a position to say that chocolate has been my strength to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and to see opportunities I could never imagine. I strongly believe that cocoa is one of the biggest sources of richness in Venezuela and it keeps me going back to the land that saw me grow, cultivate it and in doing so I feel complete and connected to the future.”