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To’ak’s inaugural Art Series edition is also our very first blend, inspired by the late Oswaldo Guayasamín—Ecuador’s most celebrated artist. Two vintage editions of To’ak chocolate with totally different personalities carefully blended into a beautiful and exceptionally well-balanced expression of Ecuadorian dark chocolate.
Ecuador’s native son, Oswaldo Guayasamín, is one of Latin America’s most celebrated artists. His work has been on display in many of the finest museums and galleries in the world. In 1976, Guayasamín and his children created the Fundación Guayasamín with the mission to honor Ecuador’s rich indigenous culture and history. In service of this mission, To’ak and Fundación Guayasamín co-created a special edition of dark chocolate that pays tribute to the ancient history and culture of Ecuador in a way that has never been done before.
Art is part of our DNA. At To’ak, we’ve never been satisfied with simply making chocolate. Ultimately what we present to the world is a work of art, and dark chocolate is our medium of expression. As artists who live and work in Ecuador, we are keenly aware of Guayasamín’s legacy. One element that has particularly drawn our attention is his depiction of sharp contrasts. Guayasamín painted about cruelty as well as tenderness, life and death, desperation and hope. He explored both the light and the darkness within the human condition.
With each edition of chocolate, our goal is to faithfully express the unique aromas and flavor profile of Nacional cacao. But just as a person cannot be defined by any single characteristic or mood, Nacional cacao has many different faces. In 2015, we launched two expressions of chocolate, each representing different ends of the spectrum in terms of flavor profile and character. Our 2015 “Light” edition was soft, subtle, nuanced. Our 2015 “Dark” edition was raw, powerful, unapologetic.
We released both of these editions to the public in 2015, but separately. We allowed people the opportunity to experience both sides of the Nacional flavor personality but only side-by-side. For the Art Series, we created our very first blend, using chocolate aged from our 2015 harvest. We integrated our “Light” and “Dark” editions into a single unified expression, which we call the Duality Blend. This metaphor extends beyond flavor and can also been interpreted in the context of our work on the land. In the drawing by Guayasamín that accompanies this edition, we see an indigenous man that has been beaten down by cruelty, and yet he is planting a tree. In spite of the suffering that he bears, what he offers is an expression of hope.
Something similar can be seen in the destruction of habitat and the loss of ancient food varieties. Over 93% of the world’s food varieties have been lost over an 80-year span. The next in line is Ancient Nacional cacao in Ecuador, which is on the brink of extinction. Under the shadow of destruction, we at To’ak are currently planting as many Ancient Nacional cacao seedlings as we can, to give new life to this culinary treasure. This is our hope for the future.
To metaphorically describe his connection to the past, Guayasamín once said that his hands have been painting for more than five thousand years. Interestingly, Nacional cacao also traces its roots back by roughly 5,000 years in Ecuador. In this rare edition of chocolate, we are celebrating that which is far older than any of us and transcends time. We are celebrating the human experience in all of its many shades.
To’ak art series.
Nose: Tobacco, caramel, floral, woody.
Palate: Woody, buttery caramel, tobacco, honey, dark fruits, softly floral, earthy, nutty.
Finish: Honey, toffee, earthy, nutty.
Variety: Heirloom Nacional
Vegan, lactose and gluten free.