Founder of Coeur de Xocolat, David Greenwood-Haigh FIH has made an impressive impact on the cocoa market – developing programmes, workshops and a factory in the tropical paradise of São Tomé and Príncipe and continuing to spread his message on the wonder that is chocolate.
David Greenwood-Haigh FIH claims to have the greatest job in the world; he is a chef, chocolatier and chocolate consultant – in other words, a complete cocoa nerd. He has the wonderful opportunity of meeting cocoa farmers and their families with the amazing privilege of gaining a glimpse into their lives and, sometimes, helping them make it a little more profitable as he visits their cocoa farms around the world.
So, when he received an invite from South African Mark Shuttleworth’s HBD Group to visit the twin-islands São Tomé and Príncipe his first reaction was, ‘YES!’ – quickly followed by ‘sorry, where?’ A quick search of the internet informed David that São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. The two islands are about 87 miles apart and about 155 and 140 miles, respectively, off the north-western coast of Gabon – with a total population of less than 250,000.
HBD invited David to visit the island to advise and train a team of local farmers to make chocolate on Príncipe for the first time keeping as much of the value on the island as possible. They discovered that Principé volcanic soil produces rich-tasting chocolate with flavour peaks of red and yellow fruits, with an intense and complex taste, rich in roasted cacao, and with lots of refreshing fruity notes: including apricot, red fruits, citrus and even hints of tea.
David then ran an eight-day tree-to-bar course teaching a team how to taste chocolate using all their senses and helped to set up a chocolate factory in the Sundy roças grounds, that offer guest experiences, tours and of course the opportunity to purchase the only chocolate made on the island.
President José Cassandra of Príncipe visited to learn what David and the team had been doing and present them with their diplomas. The team now have all the necessary skills and experience to select roast winnow Beans to produce superior cocoa nibs that can be turned into organic natural cocoa powder, cocoa butter, cocoa vinegar, roasted Cocoa nibs and couverture ready for tempering into bars and truffles.
Eco-tourism was then introduced into the offer to give hotel guests a chance to join a chocolate safari and experience the islands rich history and culture with fabulous bespoke chocolate experiences, and after a year of planning, writing recipes, scripts and persuading Joanne Harris (author of the renowned novel, Chocolat) to join, David and his team were ready to receive their first guests.
David Greenwood-Haigh FIH continues to thrive within the chocolate and confectionery industry.
He concludes: “Working with chocolate is my passion – creating exciting new flavours, demonstrating techniques and skills. But being able to meet, help and inspire people is what really drives me. Sometimes small differences like using Fair Trade can make such big changes to people’s lives.”