Nelson-made raw chocolate: a guilt-free, healthy treat
If you’ve met Andrew da Silva, chances are you’ve also tried his Raw Dragon chocolate.
My partner got to know the gracious chocolatier in a multi-week art workshop, and after each class he’d come home with Raw Dragon samples, gifted to him from da Silva. What a way to make friends!
Consequently, I’ve managed to sample each of the three flavours in the Raw Dragon line — bee pollen, hemp-mint and, my personal favourite, chili chai — and admittedly, have become kinda hooked on them.
The thing about Raw Dragon chocolate is that it’s not overly sweet. I feel more like I’m eating an energy bar than a decadent treat.
And that’s exactly the way da Silva designed it: as a guilt-free, healthy snack. Unlike candy bars that are full of sugar and processed at hot temperatures, which kill the super-food qualities contained in the cocoa bean, da Silva’s chocolate is sugar-free (sweetened with honey) and minimally processed at temperatures below 120 F to keep the beneficial nutrients intact.
“Chocolate, in its raw form, is incredibly complex. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants,” he explains. “But the nutrients are heat sensitive. When you cook it, you loose a lot of the benefit.”
Da Silva tells me this over an afternoon coffee — except only I’m drinking coffee. He’s not a caffeine drinker, he tells me, because he gets all the energy he needs by nibbling away on his raw chocolate.
“I eat some everyday,” he says. “I’ve become immune to its euphoric effects. I used to get a bit of a rush if I ate a full bar; now I’m just happy and energized all the time.”
That’s the other thing about chocolate: it makes you feel good. It has an affect on neurotransmitters that control the serotonin and dopamine levels in your body, among other things, so eating it gives you a similar feeling to being in love.
So in a way, da Silva says, he feels like making good chocolate is like spreading joy around the community.
“If somebody eats my chocolate and they become slightly happier and does something nice for one person or gives somebody an extra hug — that’s mission accomplished for me,” he explains, and as he’s saying this I realize how it makes perfect sense for him to share his chocolate with the people he spends his time with. Who wouldn’t want everyone around them to be happier?
I tell him my theory and he agrees that it’s partly that, and partly his business marketing strategy to get people to try his chocolates and start talking about them.
He’s only been in the chocolate making business for a couple years and says the sales side of things doesn’t come naturally to him. But he believes that if he has something good to offer, people will get behind it.
He makes his chocolate in a commercial kitchen, which he gets use of one day per week. He’ll do a 10 to 12 hour shift and make about 10 batches of chocolate, sometimes with the help of some friends who he affectionately calls his Ooompa-Loompas (they work in exchange for chocolate — no joke!).
His company motto, which he includes on the packaging he designed himself, is “Live From The Heart ~ Do What You Love.” And that’s exactly what da Silva is trying to do with Raw Dragon.
“I like to think of myself as a magician,” he smiles. “And chocolate is the source of my magic, as well as my outlet for it.”