It’s choctastic

THERE’S a funny YouTube video of chocolate-lovers having their first crack at the vegan version.

As you’d expect it’s pretty hit-or-miss with the faux Kit Kats and Hershey’s bars, but the worst is the pseudo Rolo which gets a brutal putdown from one participant.

“It tastes like a candle,” he protests.

That sums up many people’s opinion of moo-less chocolate, including it must be said, quite a few vegans themselves.

But the mockolate industry’s patchy offerings have created a niche, which Fremantle couple Willow and Catherine Francis have exploited with their superior vegan chocolate.

I can vouch that their new venture, Reverence Chocolate, nails it, and the jar I used for a photo prop didn’t make it home to my paleo-stricken wife (sorry April).

Reverence ticks a few other boxes for new age types – it’s organic, sustainably-sourced, fair trade, raw so the antioxidants aren’t scorched out, low-GI and it even comes in a glass jar so there’s no plastic waste.

• Willow and Catherine Francis are in chocolate love – vegan style. Photo by Steve Grant

Mr Francis says the pair were inspired by Raw Kitchen gurus Heath and Emma Daly, who gave up the front of their Freo restaurant to create the Zero Waste Store, which is a great education in how to shop without coming home with a tonne of plastic.

“Reducing the amount of single-use plastic is one of the greatest steps we can take towards a healthier environment,” says Mr Daly.

The Francises got their start in the food manufacturing business about 10 years ago with their popular Roar Superfoods brand.

It took off, but the frenetic pace started to take its toll and they sold up, went on a few adventures, a couple of spiritual retreats and last year landed a nine-month sabbatical on the isolated Lord Howe Island, 600km off the coast of NSW.

Mr Francis said it was there they decided to ditch the myriad of other superfoods they’d been dabbling in and focus on the one they really love—chocolate.

“We wanted to be present with people,” he says.

“This isolation of living on Lord Howe Island for nine months has really brought us back to a place of gratitude and passion.”

Mr Francis says there seems to be some mystical ingredient in chocolate that gets people talking: when they’ve been holding tastings, the conversations often turn towards the deep and meaningful topics occupying people’s minds.

And it seems appropriate that the product’s name is Reverence Chocolate, given there was an almost divine intervention behind the company’s birth.

The couple had recently returned from Lord Howe with their basic business plan and were juggling home-hunting with looking for a commercial kitchen for rent, when an acquaintance mentioned he was having a bit of trouble renting out a property he owned—because it had a commercial kitchen out the back.

The trio hotfooted it down to the house/kitchen where they came across a young bloke doing a bit of work around the place.

After introductions they discover he’d previously been working in Ecuador—bagging up the very cacao beans which they had been buying.

“I always wondered if I’d meet you,” he said and the rental deal was sealed.

Reverence Chocolate is now available in 14 shops around the city, including Peaches, Manna and the Hilton IGA.

There’s five divine flavours: Original, Holy Hazelnut, Subtle Sufi Rose, Awesome Orange Infusion and Monastic Mint Crunch.

by STEVE GRANT

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