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When SPC met Sala

When Jessica Pedemont, South Pacific Cacaos Chief Chocolate Evangelist, dined at Sydney’s newest waterside restaurant Sala Dining, her eyes darted straight to the dessert menu. It wasn’t just her sweet-toothed cravings – Jessica was keen to see the fruits of her efforts in print… and taste them!
Jessica collaborated with Danny Russo, Sala’s co-owner and executive chef, in the weeks before restaurant’s recent opening. Their goal: to be among the first restaurants in Sydney’s competitive dining scene to use South Pacific Cacao’s unique, ethically sourced single-origin chocolate.
Danny saw it as a chance to break the default use of mass-produced “premium” European chocolate brands as an ingredient in commercial kitchens.
“I love food, and the celebration of food,” he explains. “I think it’s an extremely sad reality that we can find ourselves dining in a local cafe, a fine-dining restaurant alongside the harbour, or a 5-star hotel restaurant in the CBD, and you are probably eating the exact same brand of chocolate in each place.
“I want to offer our guests an experience; to taste something that we believe is a unique and amazing product that’s artisan-made and local, with a beautiful story behind it of passion and dedication.”
While Danny and Jessica had crossed paths in hospitality over the years, he hadn’t had the opportunity to showcase her South Pacific Cacao chocolates until Sala was in menu development.
“We conducted a great deal of product sourcing prior to our opening to find what we consider great products,” Danny says. “It is a tremendous joy to consume chocolate that has been produced locally using just natural ingredients, with cacao beans farmed by our Pacific Island neighbours.
“Each of SPC’s chocolates has a unique flavour profile and character that vividly describes the product’s history and manufacturing process. The pure cocoa butter is such a welcome alternative to commercial butters that have undergone processing to eliminate these distinctive flavours. Anyone who has only ever consumed big chocolate brands will find the 75% dark chocolate a real treat.”
Sala has two desserts on the current menu that hero South Pacific Cacao products: the signature Sala Hazelnut and the Chocolate Mousse Terzetto Tart.
Photo Credit Michael Lewis
Photo Credit Jude Cohen
Chocolate Mousse Terzetto Tart photo credit: Michael Lewis
Sala Hazelnut photo credit: Jude Cohen
“We use SPC’s 50% vanilla coconut mylk chocolate in the centre of the Sala Hazelnut. The coconut flavours linger within the chocolate, enhancing the profile of the hazelnut.”
The Terzetto Tart is virtually Jessica’s finest South Pacific Cacao chocolate bars in one dish! “After meeting sampling the various chocolate profiles, this dessert was developed to honour the high calibre of SPC chocolate. I wanted to make a dessert that did not overpower the flavour’s complexity. To highlight the best of SPC, we used three distinct chocolates in the tart: 33% Ooh La La caramelised white, 50% vanilla coconut mylk, and 75% dark chocolate.”
Danny anticipates using more South Pacific Cacao products as Sala’s menu evolves and values his relationship with SPC as a supplier.
“As chefs, our food is like a collection of stories that arrive at your table, whether it’s in a bowl, or in a plate. What a better way to start a story than using SPC – it’s a tale of innovation, authenticity and integrity.”

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Eat chocolate responsibly!

In October for our email subscribers we were very excited to share the opportunity to sponsor the A1 Games, an important sporting community event on the island of Makira in the Solomon Islands!

Community activities such as Sport are vitally important in Solomon rural areas as they are constructive healthy activities that protect many young people from falling under the influence of alcohol and drugs, especially over the Christmas period.

The A1 Games, are an annual community event in the district of Arosi 1, West Makira that is hosted by a different village each year.


Over 1,000 male and female athletes from twenty two villages are coming together in late December to play netball, soccer and volleyball at the A1 Games.

The event creates positive community vibes and economic benefits around the district. This year co-founder of South Pacific Cacao,  Brian’s home village of Tawatana was looking for sponsorship to help raise funds for soccer balls, netballs, netball posts and rings, soccer goal nets, and team uniforms.

 By hosting sports tournaments, their village will continue to attract people, and this is an opportunity for there local people to sell their produce/products and make money for school fees and other family needs. You can follow all the updates of the games on Facebook, Click here

The games have been scheduled to commence on Boxing Day.

During October and November, our supporters purchased Makira A1 Packs from South Pacific Cacao. The results of the fundraising activities meant that we have been able to purchase iron goal posts, soccer balls, netball nets, trophies, some sporting uniforms and have had some welding work completed.

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Pictures above: referee training underway in Tawatana.  
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Photos: construction of new netball court, picking up the newly made netball rings.
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Balls and trophies sponsored by South Pacific Cacao.

The efforts to construct the sporting facilities in Tawatana have been significant. Materials need to be purchased on the capital Honiara on another island, transported by ship for nearly 2 days then landed by dinghy on a small beach.

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Dinghy for landing construction materials.
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Bags of cement that have been landed on the beach at Tawatana by dinghy. Fortunately the sea is calm today.

We look forward to being able to provide further updates of the A1 Games!

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Our chocolate in Sydney this weekend

For those living in these local areas, our chocolate is available for purchase in person at the following locations in Sydney this weekend. It may be worth calling first to check stock. Practice social distancing and follow Government guidelines relating to Covid19!

Kingsmore Meats at 22 Plumer Rd, Rose Bay on Saturday (8am-3pm) and Sunday (9am-2pm). Phone is 9363 4971.

Paesanella Cheese Haberfield, at 88 Ramsay St, Haberfield on Saturday only. Opening hours are 7:30am – 2:30pm. Phone is 9799 0077

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Today show update

Dear all, we have had an amazing response from Jessica appearing on the Today show this morning. Thank you all so much for your support!

Please note that we are experiencing a lot of demand for orders and many of our products are now out of stock on the online store but are still available to order. We will be able to work through any backorders but we would hugely appreciate your patience as we do this.

Our shop at Haberfield is not open for retail, however we do have a small number of specialty shops who are stocking our chocolate bars. We will provide you with this list shortly if they have stock available.

Thanks again! Yours in cacao and chocolate.

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From cacao to chocolate – in uncertain times

Earlier this year I achieved one of my long term social enterprise goals when I opened South Pacific Cacao, my own boutique chocolate factory in Haberfield, Sydney with my business partner the amazing Chocolate Artisan Jessica Pedemont.

This was the culmination of a five year cacao journey, which included supporting farming communities in the Solomon Islands to produce award-winning cacao beans and establishing premium supply chains into Australia, New Zealand and the competitive European craft chocolate market.

A few years ago Jessica and I decided that we would team up to create a new social enterprise pathway that linked my work in the South Pacific with the fine artisan markets in Sydney that was front and centre for Jessica. Cacao and chocolate would be the start but the sky was the limit!

South Pacific Cacao has been a while in the crafting, but we softly opened in the beautiful foodie destination of Ramsay St, Haberfield early this year, which is Jessica’s local neighbourhood. We’ve had some lovely online shoutouts in the first few months already, including Not Quite Nigella and Timeout with a few other exciting opportunities in the pipeline.

You may be aware that after working for nearly 20 years in the IT industry, I took a break a few years ago to work fulltime on my cacao social enterprise in the Solomon Islands, supporting my local farming communities on my home island of Makira to access premium markets and earn a better and fairer income.  It was very exciting at the time, however it very nearly sent my wife and I bankrupt and came with significant personal stress for the both of us. On a positive note it sufficiently accelerated my work in the Solomons so that two years ago I returned to earning a regular income in the Technology scene in Brisbane and back to spending my nights on cacao.

While time poor, this provided enough financial security again to progress another opportunity – this time with Jessica on our boutique chocolate factory!

Now the bad news which should be no surprise, we have chosen the worst time in the last 100 years to open a food business! We had planned to open before Christmas 2019, however this got delayed to January 2020 and by mid March we had to close our physical retail presence due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We also don’t qualify for any of the government assistance as we haven’t been trading for long enough.

Our short term goal at this point is simply to generate enough sales through our online channel and with our existing wholesale customers to pay our expenses (mainly rent!) so that we can keep afloat for the next 3-6 months during this uncertainty. Although Jessica runs the factory day to day, we aren’t expecting to pay any wages for some time, which is very challenging for her and her family.

Like many other local businesses, we really need your support to help us get through this time!  I know that many of my IT colleagues across many industries are hurting right now, so only if possible in your circumstances, could I please ask for your support with any of the following:

1) Visit our website and place an order for some amazing craft chocolate.

2) Share our story and website with friends and colleagues and encourage them to make an online purchase.

3) Like our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our website blog.

5) Support the other local chocolate makers in Australia who make chocolate themselves from cacao beans, many of whom are struggling at the moment. I personally know many of these wonderful people. The full list of them here. You will pay three or four times the price of a chocolate bar from Coles or Woolworths, but this is the difference between a beautifully crafted wine and a very cheap, poor quality cask wine. Your standard chocolate bar from the supermarket will have a dozen ingredients (with high percentage of cheap sugar). A high quality craft chocolate bar only needs 4 or 5 ingredients at most, with the unique flavour in a dark chocolate coming from the single origin / single estate / smallholder farm cacao beans. Plus these chocolate makers can pay farmers up to double what they earn from supplying the Nestle/Cadbury supply chains. They certainly do if sourcing through Makira Gold.

South Pacific Cacao is co-located at 74 Ramsay St, Haberfield with Jessica’s Chocolate Artisan brand. The shop is currently closed for retail due to current coronavirus regulations however we are taking online orders on our website

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You can still see my Solomon Islands cacao social enterprise, Makira Gold at (Photo above at one of the cacao farms we support in Makira – Lenard Nahurua)

(This article also published on LinkedIn.