the story

Vaka was born out of love... love of chocolate… love of eating chocolate. But I didn’t know where chocolate really came from, only that the { best stuff } came from Belgium. Surprised to learn that chocolate comes from the seeds of Theobroma Cacao, a tropical plant that only grows +|- 10º from the equator, my mind was blown to learn that while chocolate may come from Belgium, the cacao used to make it comes from places all over the world: each region + terroir + climate + farming + post-harvest practices impart a galaxy of flavour into a single cacao bean.

I dove deep into chocolate research, and the more I read, the more there was to learn: it was not just about chocolate, it was about the cacao farmers, cacao fermentation & tasting notes, sensory experience, wholesome ingredients, sustainable sourcing, responsible packaging, social and cultural impact, and so many more pieces of a puzzle. All orbiting around an almond-sized cacao bean. 

So, I bought a chocolate refiner + some cacao beans + cane sugar, and turned my home kitchen into a chocolate lab for close to a year. It was so interesting and fun, but so challenging, yet rewarding. Getting the roast just right, unlocking the flavours within the cacao, pairing the cacao with other ingredients, learning how to temper chocolate.

I am fortunate enough to have a life partner ~ Julia ~ who welcomed such an adventure, listened to me go on and on about cacao for hours, participated in hundreds of tastings, offered support and encouragement when I made mistakes, and to this day is happy to test yet another batch with “just a tiny variation” on the previous six.

I’ve always loved making things with my hands. Food things, that is. Simple ingredients, “start from scratch” philosophy, and a healthy dose of “how hard can it be?” curiosity. I did prefer making food for other people, rather than for myself. Someone, sometime, said something about the path to the heart leading through the stomach, and I’ve always relied on making food for others as a way of connecting. One would think I’d settle for a career in culinary arts, but that’s not what I did. Because we don’t always know the thing we’re “supposed to do”. If anything, I did the complete opposite – I settled for a career in front of a computer screen, clickety-clacking myself away.

But here’s the thing about getting older – you realize you’re running out of time to do things. So when I found myself at a crossroads just before Vaka, meandering the hallways of “find your passion“ books and videos, I slowly realized that as long as I could make food to feed others, I could be happy + content + fulfilled with my purpose in life: chocolate was a perfect place for me, because buying ethically-sourced cacao feeds the farmers that grow it; and making the cacao into chocolate feeds my local community and allows me to exist ~ it was a perfect circle and it felt like home.

So here I am today, two-hand operating Vaka Craft Chocolatory in London, Canada, experimenting and exploring, looking for ways to learn & improve, trying to craft the best ethical chocolate you’ve never heard of. 

To me, chocolate is not a product of one, but a product of a community: farmers, co-ops, exporters, importers, makers, consumers and so many more. So I hope my chocolate can bring people together, either by eating it, or making it, or growing the ingredients. Because we are all better together, serving each other in the best way we know.

~ serge savchuk, chocolate maker