Executing these initiatives falls largely to Grenada Tourism Authority CEO Petra Roach, who has touted her organization’s efforts to “visit cocoa plantations and organic chocolate makers nestled in Grenada’s lush rainforest. , hear Grenada’s chocolate history, make their own chocolate potions, and indulge in delicious chocolate-inspired cuisine and cocoa-infused island life.”
One night at the Calabash amber-lit Rhodes restaurant, I voraciously cut a braised prime rib of beef, paired with a creative combination of flavors: cocoa butter mashed potatoes with freshly grated nutmeg, papaya caramelized and half-chocolate ancho chili sauce (think: mole gone Grenadian)—all topped with crunchy cocoa nibs. For dessert, I devoured a sublime breadfruit, a tropical starch drizzled with a velvety white chocolate ganache.
Ramces Castillo, Calabash’s executive chef, believes that amid the fusion of African, European, Indian and Caribbean influences within Granada cuisine, the unconventional use of chocolate in dishes is making Grenada the name of “culinary capital” by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) in 2021 – a “playground for chefs”.
Chief André Church of X experience by Chef X-treme, an all-inclusive dinner service for private homes and yachts, innovatively uses island chocolate in its herb-crusted fillet of fish with al dente pasta and spinach sauce and cocoa spices. Also, Belinda Bishop’s Pomegranate Flavors facilitates authentic dining experiences that expose visitors to Grenadian chefs experimenting with cocoa.
Grenada is also one of the few places in the world where chocolate is produced from bean to bar, which means that farmers are involved in every step of the process, from harvesting to roasting to grinding and molding. This helps to ensure that the chocolate is fresh, pure and ethically produced – and that more profits accrue to the chocolatiers themselves.
“In the past, as a region, we’ve been guilty of selling our beans to the highest bidder and letting the money leave our shores with beans in bags,” says Aaron Sylvester, Tri-Island manager. “We (…) are rewriting this narrative and decolonizing the bean-by-bean market.
“There’s no denying that Grenada’s chocolatiers harness the essence of the island’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit,” says Naguib Sawaris, owner of luxury developer Joyau de Caraibes Ltd. Silversands seaside resort, has an expanding portfolio of five-star hotel plays on the island, including the soon-to-open Beach House, which will feature chocolate in its restaurants and spa. “We believe that by enhancing our visitors’ experience with the delicious flavors of Grenadian chocolate, we are also contributing to the growth and development of the local economy.
In St. Andrew’s Parish, Garbutt in L’Esterre says she sees a bright future for Grenada’s collegiate chocolatiers, most of whom have also built export markets in the United States and Europe. As we spoke, storm clouds gathered overhead, ready to shower the cocoa trees with some much-needed rain. Nearby, pink cone gingers, silk cottons, and soursops adorned the landscape.
“We’ve always worked collaboratively and supported each other instead of competing with each other,” says Garbutt. “We often share equipment, knowledge and know-how, facilities and customers (…) Our collective goal is to put Grenadian chocolate on the map.”