Brian Wallace, Founder / Maker / Alchemist
Where do you live?
When did you start your brand? How did it start?
My spark for chocolate began when I had my first sample of raw cacao beans - the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree and the botanical source of all things chocolate. A subtle euphoria gently washed over me, awakening my mind & enlivening me from within. I quickly realized that the “chocolate” I’d had most of my life was so over-processed and diluted with refined sugar & milk that it barely resembled the original food crop it was derived from. A few months later, I quit my job to travel the world in search of the perfect cacao bean, and to apprentice with any teacher who would share their skills with me. I became inspired to create a new style of chocolate, one that synthesized classical European technology, modern nutritional research, and the ethereal aspects of cacao familiar to the ancient Maya & Aztec. I founded Endorfin several years and hundreds of recipes later, to reintroduce cacao to the modern world as the highly nutritive, uplifting ‘food of the gods’ that it once was.
How did you decide to turn your skills into a 'real' job? Do you work on the side?
I knew I’d need actual skills if I wanted to make it in the chocolate & food world, so I decided to spend my savings on chocolate school, live like a hermit, and work chocolate for hours on end almost every day for a year. I knew that if I could understand the way chocolate was made, I could apply my mind to modifying the processes & practices slightly to emphasize vitality & wellness, which was my goal. I like to say that I’m turning vices into virtues, primarily by changing the way they’re made and also in showing people how to have healthier relationships with their medicines.
What makes you happiest about what you do?
At this point the spatulas and stone grinders I use on a daily basis have become my paintbrushes to express my art. I’m at a place now where I’m crafting recipes based on molecular pairings, combining things like pink peppercorn & single origin Madagascar cacao because of their shared flavor compounds. Every molecule tells a story of interactivity, from the ecology of the plant it came from to how it interacts with your senses to how it tickles a receptor site in the brain. Crafting food w/ respect to all of these elements really lights me up, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.
Whats the hardest part about what you do?
Educating consumers & fans about why our products costs more than what they’re used to can be challenging. In today’s information age, its hard to get anyone’s attention for more than 5 seconds, let alone educate them about the rampant use of slave labor in most of the chocolate trade, or how we modify our processing practices to prevent degradation of antioxidant compounds.
Where do you hope to see your brand in 5 years?
I’d love to see our products around the country in independent grocery stores & boutiques, and be working with an international distributor or two that gets what we’re doing. I’d also love to see us with a retail location somewhere with lots of trees & plant life, offering wildcrafting classes & herb walks along with culinary events & pairings.
Whats product that you make is your favorite?
I get this question a lot, and really it changes from day to day. Right now I’m working on a root beer float bar that is a formulation of the old school herbs & spices that were used to make this before “natural flavors” became an acceptable thing to ingest. Every ingredient has a way it likes to be used - fresh, dry, powdered, whole, infused into oil, distilled, etc., so figuring out how to balance all of the flavors has really been a lot of fun.
What do you like to listen to while you work?
Lately its been Johnny Cash…
Where can we buy your stuff! Do you have a favorite shop?
Our website is probably the best - its the only place to get my Community Supported Chocolate box, which is like a CSA produce box for chocolate. This is where I let my creativity shine, because this is where I get to make limited edition recipes that aren’t available anywhere else.
What about Desert & Denim are you looking forward to most?
I’m really looking forward to picking some desert plants and infusing them into the drinking cocoa we’ll be serving throughout the event. The blend should be really special, and something that will only exist at Desert & Denim.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own business?
I’d say as early on as possible, be yourself and make things that are interesting to you. In every industry and every level of business there’s an idea of the standard style of doing things, or a standard type of product. But that’s boring, and in today’s mass information and marketing age, expecting people to choose your product or service that’s similar to a thousand others is a recipe for failure. Be unique, be yourself, and figure get comfortable talking about what motivates you.
Eat chocolate, go outside.