Business Owner Kara Hayes
It all started with making truffles in my kitchen. I love experimenting with unique flavor combinations, melting the cocoa, sneaking several taste tests, rolling the dense base into truffles, and adding any decorative toppings to them as a finale. I expanded and started making mousse and toffee as well. Let's just say sometimes it was a sticky situation (yes, I just said that). This has been a side hobby for since the mid-2000s.
My deep love for chocolate began in 2014 while working at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, where food, including chocolate, is considered medicine. One summer day I remember a faculty member raving about a chocolate tour in the city that she organized for her husband and friends. Come again, a chocolate tour? Before this I had no clue that there were several gourmet chocolate shops in Portland that make their own chocolate from scratch. This is the first time I heard the terminology bean-to-bar. Until this point I was only familiar with "good" chocolate from the grocery stores— granted, I had moved beyond Hersey’s and accelerated to organic, fair-trade chocolate sold at the $2-5 range. I was consuming more dark chocolate and visiting the grocery stores a.k.a New Seasons and Whole Foods that offer a variety of chocolate.
When it came time to plan my one-year dating anniversary with my non-chocolate partner in 2014, the chocolate enthusiast and event planner in me decided to create a customized chocolate tour of my own, visiting eclectic chocolate shops in the Portland area. Some of the highlighted stops included: Alma, Pitch Dark Chocolate, Cacao, the Meadow, and Pix Patisserie. Besides a sugar coma at the end of the night, I was laying on a euphoric bed cloud of cacao; and it was clear I had fallen in love. One and a half years, and a bajillion chocolate bars later, I found myself single and craving chocolate more than ever. It was time for me to stop blooming on the shelf; after all, the shelf-life of gourmet chocolate is only one year for dark chocolate and six months for milk.
I had attended a few meetups before and thought perhaps I would join a chocolate meetup group, to be around chocolate addicts like me, the perfect combination of community and consuming chocolate. When I noticed zero chocolate meetup groups existed, I jumped at the chance to start my own chocolate meetup group. And so, a meetup was born: The Portland Chocoholics was born on April 8th, 2016 and has grown to over 250 members. Over the last year, we have visited a plethora of chocolate and bean-to-bar shops for conversation, tours, and tastings in Portland and Seattle.
It was through my meetup events that I learned to taste chocolate the proper way. I immediately became enamored with learning about the history, the process and art of chocolate making, discovering and visiting chocolate shops in my local area and travel destinations, and picking the brains of passionate experts in the chocolate field.
It was less than six months ago when something inside me snapped! I, Kara, aka the Chocolate Wrapper, aka DJ Khay (foreshadowing to my original Chocolate Rap), was going to start my own business in the field of chocolate; all signs pointed to the pod, the bean, and the bar.
And so Chocolate Pursuit was born. I believe we all deserve to taste artisan craft chocolate and melt into the experience, and I want more than ever to provide that experience to individuals and groups-- to the seasoned, the bold and adventurous, the shy and the curious chocolate lover craving to break out of their shell and try something new.
I have accomplished a good deal within the last year-- as a meetup organizer, aspiring chocolate connoisseur, independent business woman, and mostly, as a genuine chocoholic. And yet my journey into the world of chocolate has just begun. I am beyond excited to pursue my passions and dreams, to educate, entertain, and enrich peoples' lives through the sphere of chocolate.