I am Dr. Chocolate. In 2008, I earned a PhD from the University of Washington by studying chocolate. Now, I am on the hunt for the best chocolate in the world.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mott Green, the first of the chocolate artisans

Many people in the chocolate world will have many things to say about Mott Green in these coming days I am sure, but I wanted to say some of my own.

Every time I get up in front of a group of people—one of my own classes, or a talk at a chocolate shop, or a crowd at the festival—and say anything about artisanal chocolate in the US today, my story always starts with Mott.

“There was this guy, Mott Green,” I say, “and he was buying these old machines, and figuring out how to make chocolate with them, all by himself, before anyone else had even thought of it. Mott was the first.”

And then my story goes on, and I talk about how this industry has flourished and how we live in an extraordinary moment in the history of chocolate. About how the growing numbers of chocolate artisans today are people who dreamed something wild—to make chocolate, with their hands, maybe even in a garage or a backyard at first—who have the courage to bring their creation into the world so we can really taste this fruit. Somewhere in all that, whether the maker knew him or not, Mott was part of the inspiration. He dreamed it, and did it, and it seemed like it made him really happy. Mott was the person who actually up and went to live on a tropical island to make chocolate bars. Who among us would dare to live so well?

I just emailed him the other day. He was looking forward to coming back for the NW Chocolate Festival in September, but surely not as much as Brian and I were looking forward to having him here again. We loved Mott, and getting to spend time with him outside the madness of the festival was one of the best parts of doing the thing. The moment I remember most fondly from last fall was stealing into the lecture hall where we were screening the documentary Nothing Like Chocolate, to sit in the back of the room next to Mott and watch him watch himself on the big screen. The film shows him making chocolate, but also just being himself, having a life and friends and loves in Grenada. Whenever something personal was about to come up, he’d warn me first—“Ok, this part is really about me . . . I don’t know why people would want to see this, but Kum-Kum [the filmmaker] said it had to be in there,” and he’d look shy and embarrassed.

But really the whole thing was about Mott—the chocolate, and the people who were part of his work in Grenada, and the factory, and the boat that sailed his chocolate to people like me who ate it, happily, all the time. All of that was Mott’s own dream come to life. I am grateful to have celebrated that with him, but right now filled with grief that such a tragic accident took him out of our world.

Thank you, Mott, for friendship and chocolate.