Inspiring through transcendental stories. Interview with our Chef Partner, Gonzo Jiménez
We are proud to be part of a community of chefs who are passionate about fine aroma chocolate. Today we want to introduce you to Gonzo Jiménez, our Chef Partner in the US, and co-owner of Miette et Chocolat. Besides being a renowned chocolatier, Gonzo is also an ultra-marathon runner. He uses nature as a source of inspiration for his various artistic creations. Learn more about this Chef’s values and purpose through the conversation we had with him.
How would you describe yourself on a personal and professional level?
Gonzo: I’m from Latin America but have lived in the US for a while. I’m, relatively young, 36 years old, inside the world of chocolate and pastry for more than 15 years, a dedicated professional, a person who is very passionate about my job, and with a vision for the future.
On a personal level, I’m a very intense and extreme person, I don’t like to do things halfway. A good example of this is that I’m a mountain ultra-marathon runner. Ever since I started running, I couldn’t just do a simple 10 km run. I’m someone that enjoys everything at a maximum level, so I run races of 100 miles, 200 miles, and this is what I apply to my everyday life too, in general I am all or nothing.
We can tell you have a direct relation with your personal and profesional life.
Gonzo: Of course, I always try to connect both things. A big part of our clients are runner friends from the area, so we have developed products that are for runners, both things are always linked with each other. Last year, for example, I launched a bean to bar chocolate campaign that we made with grains from República del Cacao, from Ecuador, the chocolate also had pine leaves that I collected directly from the mountains where I run. So, that is my way to share the experiences I have with my clients.
If you can describe this year in one word for you, what would it be?
Gonzo: If I can describe this year in one word it would be resilience, and that is part of my personality too. If there’s a problem, you have to reinvent yourself, and that is part of what I have done during my whole life and my career. I have good and bad moments constantly, but the important thing is to keep moving forward, always with a smile on my face, I think that is fundamental.
What would your recommendations be for other entrepreneurs?
Gonzo: Since this challenging year started, what I tried to do was to be as patient as possible and not get desperate. We know hard and complicated moments are coming, and with time we’ll be able to overcome them, so what we did was to be patient and a lot of positive ideas developed from that. So, don’t get desperate and know that sooner or later everything is going to get better.
How important is it for you to gravitate towards using sustainable products and ingredients?
Gonzo: For me it is very important to know where ingredients come from. It is everything to me, and a big part of how I operate my company. That is actually the number one reason we chose República del Cacao. Also, since I’m a Latin American living in the US, I always try to support Latin American products with a lot of pride. Sustainability is something fundamental to us, as is working with a brand that makes a strong emphasis on everything that is related to the environment. When the pandemic started it seemed as though everybody had forgotten about climate change. So, what we did in our company was to focus on something else, and not take away this virtue from our brand and its message just to keep selling.
Could you share with us some of the strategies you took within this year?
Gonzo: On a local level, well, we hired friends who drive electric bicycles so they would help us with the delivery of cookies and certain desserts and chocolates around the area. So, focused on producing small quantities and, with the help of friends, we started selling locally. Trying not to affect the environment with our actions by not using motorcycles or cars to make deliveries, or plastic and bubble wrap for the packages. We didn’t use these materials that are always harmful to the environment.
How do you think you can contribute to this global sustainability model?
Gonzo: I always try to make an impact, even if it is little. We can’t get stressed trying to make everything by ourselves, but you can always try to put your grain of sand. So that’s what we try to do, we control the quantity of plastic we use when we produce, also the quantity of cardboard. We deliver our products and reuse the boxes from República del Cacao or from any other one of our suppliers on delivery process. We also try to connect our clients with nature, by creating campaigns related to the mountains, or with animals for children. This is how we try to push this environmental consciousness on them, who are the new generations. One thing leads to the other.
As you know we are now a B Corp certified company, and we wouldn’t have done it without allies like you. Tell us, what does this certification mean to you and your company?
Gonzo: For us, it is something very important that our number one supplier is now a B Corp. Not only because of the sustainable business part, but also because of the story behind it. República del Cacao’s story is a real one, it is not just something they tell other companies or clients. For us, it is fundamental that this story is real. And this is why we promote República del Cacao so much, because it is a B Corp certified corporation thanks to its real stories.
What is your favorite product from República del Cacao?
Gonzo: My favorite República del Cacao chocolate is the Milk Chocolate Peru 38%. To be honest it is just a matter of likes, and something personal. The quality of the product we use is very important. It is not a cheap one compared to other products I can get, but since day one we realized that the product’s price was not something that we were interested in if we wanted to create the high-quality confections. We are very proud of the quality of our products, from the milk for the white chocolate, to the cacao nibs, and it is not something you are just saying, but something you are also doing, something real.
How do you find your inspiration?
Gonzo: My inspiration comes from the experiences I live.
How do you find balance between flavors and textures on your creations?
Gonzo: We are very realistic about the combination of flavors and the desserts we develop. At the beginning we used to combine strange flavors, but people in the US don’t like that very much, so you have to know your customers, and give them flavors that they are familiar with. It is a balance between what’s new and what’s simple.
What can you say about República del Cacao related to our factory processes that you saw during your Client Trip?
Gonzo: The factory is very little, and few collaborators work there as factory operators, that is something that really caught my attention. You could see the passion every single one of them had, for the job they were doing. Operators from a chocolate factory that are always passionate and with a smile on their faces.
How was your experience when visiting our allied communities on field on your Client Trip to Ecuador?
Gonzo: What surprised me the most was when we visited the milk communities in Turucucho. To witness how everybody knew the names of these people and of the cows. That was something I already knew, but I didn’t imagine it was real like that, I always thought it was just a marketing strategy, but when we got there and I realized that the cows were really there, the farmers were really there, and all of them had real names, I realized the story was real too.
Talking with Gonzo was without a doubt an inspirational moment. This is why we wake up everyday at República del Cacao, for this community of passionate chocolate lovers who want to connect with real stories, real people and real ingredients. None of this would be possible without the support of a community of chefs who care about their impact and what they can do, by “changing the world one cacao bean at the time”.
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