Show Me Your Hands: The Chocolate Maker
Words by Nicole DeMarco | Photographs by Paige French
In a world where handcraft is often overlooked, we celebrate artists who work with their hands; those who converse with their own mediums, and from their process emerge tactile products that share their story and spirit.
Peter Dale is a chocolate maker and a chef, born and raised in Georgia. Alongside his brother Nick, he is the owner and founder of Condor Chocolates, which brings bean-to-bar Ecuadorian chocolate as well as hot cocoa, coffee, and other delicious confections to the Five Points neighborhood of Athens. The name of the business refers to the national bird of Ecuador, the Andean Condor, and embodies the richness of childhood summers spent there, but it is so much more than that. Peter’s father first met his mom in Ecuador while backpacking, and their love story blossomed in the land of the finest cacao in the world.
When Peter travelled to Ecuador, he could not help but realize that there was a shortage of tastefully wrapped chocolates to bring home as small gifts. So after years of working in other fields, Peter and Nick finally gave in to the entrepreneurial spirit and set up shop in the states, with the goal of creating artisanal chocolate that is suitable for gift giving and promoting the awareness of Ecuadorian cacao.
Their process is very tactile from start to finish, beginning with the hand sorting of the beans. Each and every bean is carefully examined, making sure that their hulls are not damaged and there are not any foreign materials like stones, leaves, or even feathers trapped inside. “Before the beans get to us, the cacao pods are harvested by hand from the trees in Ecuador. Later in the chocolate-making process the bars are wrapped by hand,” Peter explains. When the final product is ready, it eventually makes its way into the last set of hands – that of the delighted consumer.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to see guests enjoying something that you’ve worked with from a raw state all the way to the finished product,” Peter says. These consumers have the opportunity to participate in and engage in the process, too, as the chocolate making occurs in store. While Peter and Nick are invested in the chocolate-making business, they’re just happy doing what they love. Through their process, Peter and Nick channel the adventurous spirit that first led their father to Ecuador; celebrate the birthplace of their mother; and share their favorite childhood treat with the community.