We discovered FINE & RAW Chocolate and were intrigued by the concept—raw chocolate, sweetened with agave instead of sugar, no dairy, great packaging, made in Brooklyn. The Lucuma & Vanilla bar, in particular, won raves at CHHQ. We got in touch with chocolatier Daniel Sklaar who created the company to learn more.
Cool Hunting: What inspired you to start Fine & Raw Chocolate?
Daniel Sklaar: FINE & RAW was inspired by a love for all things artisanal and creamy.
CH: Why did you decide to focus on raw chocolate?
DS: I've always been a chocolate fiend. I've also had a huge pull toward natural foods. Raw chocolate was the idea of trying something new with the culinary art of chocolate as well as exploring the ideas of nutrition and whole foods.
CH: Can you elaborate a little on the benefits of raw chocolate?
DS: Scientific studies have shown that raw cacao is the number one food source of magnesium and antioxidants. Raw cacao has up to five times more antioxidants than regular dark chocolate. Over 300 other elements have been found in cacao. Among them are phenylethylamine (which scientists believe is released when you are in love or at the very least releases endorphins in the brain and produces a mild feeling of euphoria); tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin), theobromine and anandamine (the bliss chemical). Other benefits worth mentioning are the aphrodisiac and appetite suppressant qualities.
CH: Is there a raw chocolate movement developing?
DS: Yes, it's grass roots right now. Raw chocolate was only introduced to the public relatively recently. It's taken time to reach the culinary world. But the culinary scope and nutritional benefits are compelling more people to become interested in it.
CH: How important is Made in Brooklyn part of your brand?
DS: Made in Brooklyn is an integral part of the brand. Brooklyn is the DNA of our identity. The brand is based on getting involved locally by creating great chocolate experiences and expressing relevant dialogues with our communities. There's an amazing food culture in Brooklyn and it's exciting to be apart of it and support it.
CH: Your logo and packaging are great. Can you tell us about it?
DS: All the designs were done by local Williamsburg artists. The original logo was designed by Kristina Kaye. At the time it was designed I was broke and she got kicked out of her apartment. I let her crash on my couch and offered her a lifetime supply of chocolate to work on the designs. It worked out great for both of us. She specializes in lingerie design which seemed like a perfect extension to chocolate design. The design was based on sincerity and creaminess: What we want our chocolate experience to be. The chocolate bar wrappers were designed in collaboration with other local artists.