Interview: Curase Chocolate Maker Jessica Erler
Artisanal LA has become a proving ground for food and drink related concepts that demonstrate a commitment to local, sustainable and handmade philosophy. From April 16 – 17, event organizer Shawna Dawson gathered more than 90 vendors in a vacant space on the top floor of Santa Monica Place. Attendees got their first tastes from tenants at The Market, a 45,000-square-foot, multiple booth venue that opens on May 20, and several other concepts could easily achieve breakout status as well. Each artisan has a story, and we have eight tales to tell, including a vegan chocolatier.
Curasé founder Jessica Erler saw the need to produce “artisan raw chocolates made using the highest quality organic, fair-trade ingredients.” She’s a holistic nutritionist and created a healthier alternative, producing her chocolates at low temperatures to preserve the health benefits, keeping sugar out of the process, and including herbal remedies “to aid in the promotion of relaxation and well-being.”
Why vegan chocolate?
I really started out just to create a healthy chocolate product. The byproduct just happens to be vegan. We wanted to cut out the sugar, cut out the dairy and you get a very simple form of chocolate. In my cooking I try to never go over five ingredients, so that’s how I created this.
You’re a nutritionist?
A holistic nutritionist.
Can you see a time where you’re just making chocolate?
Possibly. I also do nutritional consulting and I teach yoga, and I like the balance. Maybe it would be a full-time thing, maybe not. It’s a fun way to create something that’s good for people that tastes good too.
If people could only try one of your products, what should it be and how come?
The crunchy peanut butter cups. I think they’re the best. They’re the most fun. It’s like getting a healthy peanut butter cup. The combination of the chocolate and peanut butter’s great. I use organic peanut butter from California grown peanuts. We get to put that local edge on it too, which is really nice.
Is there any misconception that people have about vegan chocolate?
I think they think that raw and vegan is going to taste bad, and it doesn’t taste bad, it tastes different. It’s not going to taste like a Snickers bar, it’s not going to taste like a Hershey bar. You’re just going to have a different kind of experience, but it’s good. That’s a misconception. We still think healthy food isn’t going to be flavorful food, but that’s not true.
And the chocolate, you were saying, contains maca (root), cacao…
I use organic, raw cacao, organic, raw maca, organic, raw agave syrup, vanilla extract, and I add the Bach Rescue Remedies to it as well. Then I have four varieties. There’s plain, a cashew caramel which is just cashews and maple syrup, and then I do a crunchy peanut butter and a creamy peanut butter.
Where is your chocolate available?
I’m at Erewhon and PC Greens and I’m online.
Why the name?
It means to heal oneself in Spanish, because the Bach flower remedies promote self healing of the body.