Mark Aselstine
November 4, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

TCHO and Uncorked Ventures Chocolate Gift Baskets

When we first started looking for products for our gift baskets we had a few simple goals:

1) Local Companies
2) Special Products

TCHO chocolates certainly fits both bills and made an easy inclusion in our Chocolate Gift Baskets. Easily the most interesting and unexpected ownership situation of any chocolate company, TCHO was started by a wide range of people with an amazingly varied set of experiences. Jane Metcalfe who is best known as one of the founders of Wired Magazine and helps to show the various and diverse people involved at TCHO. In many ways people are likely to think that someone with interests as diverse as the UC Berkely Foundation, high tech, magazines and the One Economy Corporation (the short story is the idea of how tech can help people living in poverty join the middle class across the globe) wouldn’t be the most likely person to enjoy truly outstanding chocolate, or to make a business out of it.

Of course, given the clear cut connections to UC Berkely and the Bay Area in general, the food focus isn’t as surprising. We’ve talked a lot in this space already about the food and wine focus which pervades the greater Bay Area, not to mention the local love affair with locally grown products.

We wanted to bring that focus on food to our gift baskets and given the immense respect we have for TCHO, their mission and employees, it seemed like a natural fit.

Of course, no chocolate business could be both truly cutting edge without having access to the absolute best raw materials. Karl Bittong is listed officially as a co-founder and from what we’ve heard, his experience and relationships built over 40+ years in the chocolate industry can’t be understated. Much like wine needs the best vineyards and production techniques to be world class, chocolate needs the best cocoa to be truly transformative.

Any mention of TCHO, no matter how brief should also make note that they are one of only about a dozen true manufacturers of chocolate. Most chocolatiers are only re-melting chocolate and not actually manufacturing it on site. Aside from creating better chocolate, this focus on manufacturing also allows people like my wife, who has a peanut allergy, to be able to enjoy the chocolate. It’s nice to be able to find locally made chocolate instead of having to order it from the east coast around Easter to be sure.

If you’re a chocolate fan, or just someone who enjoys a great story or even a high tech start up in an unexpected place, a visit to the TCHO tasting room on the Embarcadero in San Francisco is well worth your time during your next trip to the city.


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