We wanted to know a bit more about the Man behind Pana Chocolate, the world's best Raw, organic handmade chocolate so we thought we'd ask him a few questions, force him to revel his favourite flavour and tell us about how life has changed since the days of hand delivering all orders!
Ok let's start at the beginning, tell us the story of your journey into chocolate?
A close friend of mine asked me to try some raw chocolate a few years back now and it was in that moment I just knew it was the right journey for me. I spent six months developing Pana Chocolate, getting the balance of flavours right, the texture right and using the right ingredients. I tested it amongst friends and friends of friends until I was happy.
Happy is what I’ve felt from the beginning and still now. When we started, I did everything myself – and 5 short years later we’ve expanded to be in over 25 countries and 4,000 stockists worldwide with a team nearing 100 people!
Every good thing comes with challenges, what have you faced that you didn't expect?
The speed at which the company has grown. In five years, we have outgrown our space three times and it’s only just the beginning.
Ok so what's the best or most exciting part of your day to day?
I have been fortunate to meet amazing people all over the world. Every day I have the pleasure of working with some of the most driven and inspiring individuals.
If your first name wasn't synonymous with ridiculously good chocolate where would you be living and what would you love to be doing?
You would find me living on a self-sustainable farm. I would grow all my own produce and regularly entertain family and friends.
(Side note - something tells me this guy would have gone on to do great things be it in chocolate or whatever other venture he put his hand too)
Let's get serious, do you feel that the expansion of Pana Chocolate has changed who you are and how the brand operates?
Yes, definitely. The biggest step for me personally was transitioning from just someone with a passion and good idea, to a CEO. My job now requires managing people and facets of the company across the globe.
Essentially, every decision we make now affects a whole company – not just me, and all decisions must be incredibly calculated and measured. Managing people is a whole different ball game.
What's next for Pana Chocolate?
I wish to take Pana Chocolate to the World and we’ve only just started. So, I’ll still be enjoying the journey, admiring and protecting what the cacao tree plant has to offer us and as making sure it doesn’t feel like work.
If you were stuck on a desert island with one product what would it be?
Am I supposed to say chocolate?! Essential Oils – and my happy memories.
This year saw Pana chocolate launch its first cookbook. I think a lot of people were surprised to find a few recipes that don't contain chocolate! If I was going to get myself in the kitchen a create a masterpiece which would you recommend?
The cheese platter. I love the different array of nut cheeses, fruit and use of seeds. It takes a bit of time, but it is an absolute showstopper that is so worth the effort. (Don't worry it's all vegan!)
And for the real questions, what’s your favourite flavour?
Don’t ask me to pick a favourite – I can’t differentiate between my kids! I do have a soft spot though for Sour Cherry & Vanilla.