Chocolate is getting big in Peru, and it’s thanks to innovative small businesses such as Patricia Yep’s boutique shop, ‘Chocolatex’, that’s helping bring it to the world’s attention. The cacao bean that’s produced in the Cusco region is second to none, so it was about time a good chocolate shop was set up here. We got together with Patricia to find out more about Cusco’s chocolate secrets.
Interview: Q&A with a chocolate-maker extraordinaire
Q:What made you decide to set up a chocolate shop in Cusco?
A: I am a declared chocolate addict! I used to be a primary school teacher, but have always been passionate about candies and cookies. I came to Cusco 11 years ago with my two young daughters, and one day after lunch we were walking around looking for a place to buy chocolate and sit comfortably to enjoy our dessert, but we couldn’t find it. It was then that I decided to open a shop dedicated to chocolate, a dream for every chocolate addict! Over the years I have taken my customer feedback and created different chocolate mixes and presentations that satisfy even the most discerning palates.
Q: What’s special about chocolate in Cusco?
A: The cacao produced in Cusco is called chuncho because it is native to the jungle zone called Chunchada, in the Convencion Province. Cacao chuncho has a fine aroma and taste that is probably the best cacao in Peru and is very superior to hybrid cacao cultivated in other areas.
Q: How and where do you make your chocolate?
A: We prepare our chocolate products with pure cacao paste produced by the oldest manufacturers in Cusco. I am living in Lima right now, so we craft all the products in my workshop here. I personally oversee the production process and send the products to Cusco, ensuring my high standard of quality.
Q: We heard rumors that you have had famous celebrities such as Johnny Depp visit your shop – is it true, and who?!
A: When I opened the shop, the movie Chocolat with actors Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp had recently opened in the cinema, so many people asked if that movie inspired me; the truth is, no! But it was a great coincidence because the protagonist of the film was a woman and her daughter who opened a chocolate shop, so of course when I opened my shop with my daughters, people couldn’t help relating it!
Many Peruvian celebrities have visited our shop; Mabela Martínez, presenter of Sonidos del Mundo, a TV program; Melania Urbina, a movie actor; and the mother of Kina Malpartida, a professional boxer.
Q: Are you getting involved with the Mistura food festival in Lima?
A: I was invited to participate in a TV documentary Sueños de Chocolate (Chocolate Dreams), presented by Astrid Gutsche in early 2012. She and her crew visited my shop in Cusco and they invited me to participate in Mistura. I did and it was a great experience. This year they invited me to participate in the ChocoExpo in Mistura 2013, so I hope to see you all in my stand!
Q: What are your plans for Chocolate?
A: I would like to participate in more trade fairs such as the ChocoExpo at Mistura and open up more distribution points. In the near future, I plan to offer our hot chocolate from “Chocolat-Cars” that will travel around Lima.
Q: Sounds exciting! In the meantime, what are your recommendations for visitors to your shop?
A: Do not miss our hot chocolate or the chocolate truffles, and experiment with the exotic “Spicy Sauco Tart”.
Get in touch with chocolate in Cusco
Patricia´s Chocolate store is located in Cusco’s San Blas neighborhood on Calle Choquechaca 162, a three block walk from Cusco’s central Plaza de Armas.