Among all the food producers doing great work in their communities, one has stood out from the crowd. This person has worked to not only improve the lives and livelihood of the plantation farmers he works with, but also a local shelter. He's committed to not just selling chocolate, but to using chocolate to make a real difference in people's lives. That man is Shawn Askinosie and he is being honoured by the US National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) with the Business Leadership Award 2013.
Shawn Askinosie not only personally visits the farms he buys beans from, ensuring that he deals direct with farmers and doesn't use brokers which in turn means all the money from the sale of the beans goes to the farmer, but he also works on ensuring the local children, including the children from those local chocolate plantations, get lunch at school through supporting the local school lunch program. He ensures those schools also engage in projects that result in real investment and products reaching market, which in turn ensures that the next generation of cocoa farmers are inspired to stick with it.
Shawn Askinosie also works with his local community in Springfield, MO by helping the women at the local shelter make money and through supplying computer kit for the shelter. Shawn is passionate about chocolate but he is also passionate about helping people.
Shawn also produces award-winning chocolate. Honoured by the Academy of Chocolate and SOFI for outstanding flavour which he has coaxed out of beans, he is a master of the chocolate makers art. The Ecuadorian chocolate he makes from bean to bar has evolved from a wonderful ripe red fruit with acidity to a gorgeous jasmine top note which quickly dissipates into a fudgy chocolaty dried red fruit with acidity flavour. VERY difficult to capture and he does it with the skill of a consummate expert. The collaBARations with other small producers like the Malted Milk bar with Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams was absolutely inspired, reaching out beyond his own area to partner with others and make an even bigger change.
"The specialty food industry is driven by passionate entrepreneurs who are seeking to make a positive impact on society, whether in their own community, or beyond. The individuals selected for our first annual Leadership Awards each demonstrate extraordinary efforts that go far beyond creating great food," says NASFT President Ann Daw. Askinosie will accept the award during a ceremony at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco on 22 January, 2013.
Shawn Askinosie has also been honoured by Oprah, and it is my hope that others will see his amazing contributions to not just chocolate, but society, and choose to purchase chocolate that really does do the world good.