Chocolatier Kristen Hard

Chocolatier Kristen Hard

Why is sourcing local and or organic produce important to you & your restaurant?Sourcing local creates a foundation for a business that is truly sustainable.  Because our main crop- the cocoa bean- must be sourced from around the globe, we go to extremes to support the farmers where we source from and help them to develop added value on their own farms.  Similarly, we work with local farmers in Atlanta who supply us with fruits and herbs we use in our truffle line and in return collect our highly valuable husk of the cocoa bean to use as compost and to enrich their own soil.   Furthermore, I am working hard to eventually own my own farm in a cacao growing region to finally have control of that last puzzle piece- the growing of the trees and picking of the cacao pods.
If you were a farmer what would you raise or grow? If I was a farmer, for sure I would polycrop cacao with other valuable and sustainable crops that would create sustainability on the farm.
What one seasoning can you not live without?  I cannot live without salt.  Salt is an integral player in creating balance and enhancing true flavors.
What should every kitchen not be without? [ie: type of knife, pan, olive oil, etc]  As a chef, I would say that every kitchen should not be without one amazing utlity knife.  As a scientist, the most important tool in my kitchen is a winnower- a machine that blows the husk from the nib of the cocoa bean.
What chef or person inspired you to enter the culinary world? I am not sure that I had an inspiration from a person in the culinary world.  I was  however heavily influenced by certain philosophers and scientists.
What celebrity or historical figure would you most want to serve a meal to? I would love to serve a meal to Rumi, a great Sufi philosopher/poet.
Where and with whom would be your ideal location for your last supper? What would you eat, drink and listen to ? I would have my last supper in the countryside of Italy with my closest friends, including all the ladies of Cacao eating pasta, burrata, and drinking an amazing glass of wine. 

Kristen Hard’s passion for culinary creativity began at the tender age of five as she scoured her house for spare sticks to construct homemade lollipops, barely able to peak over the kitchen countertop.  That initial curiosity has led to years of rigorous research, which propelled Hard’s success to a level commonly reserved for tenured chocolatiers well beyond her age.  Hard, 32, hails from Atlanta and is a true daughter of the South.  After traveling the world as a chef, she brings her culinary pride and recognition back to her hometown. It is through her experiences abroad, that the evolution from chef to chocolate maker has taken place.

After working in several restaurants and cafes throughout college, Hard traveled to Italy to explore the world outside her Southern roots.  While in Rome, she was hired as a private chef aboard boats crossing the Atlantic and sailing the Caribbean.  In the small confines of the boat’s kitchen, Hard experimented with creating chocolate, stopping at local ports to purchase fresh ingredients on a weekly basis.  It was at one such port where Hard discovered the alluring cocoa bean and her true love affair began.  While watching a group of Caribbean women crush cacao beans with their bare hands, her passion for discovering chocolates’ many aspects ensued.  This endeavor served as the basis of her first line of truffles and bars, showcasing a sustainable and deeply satisfying premium dark chocolate infused with an array of organic herbs, spices, teas and fruits.

After returning to Atlanta, Hard began her wholesale company, K Chocolat, in 2004 creating a line of truffles with holistic characteristics informed by her work done with a local herbalist.  Just five short years later, she opened her first storefront, Cacao Laboratoire du Chocolat and Boutique, in Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood. Each step in Hard’s journey has been a progression of getting closer to the source of chocolate.  With the unveiling of her “Love Bar,” made directly from the cocoa bean in 2009, Hard’s evolution continued as both the first bean to bar chocolate maker in the Southeast and the first female bean to bar producer in the U.S.  Since then she actively sources her own cocoa beans, working hands on with farmers in the harvesting and fermentation process and is heavily involved in elevating cacao farming practices.

Recent Accolades:

o   Best New American Chocolate- Food and Wine Magazine

o   100 Things to Taste in America- Food and Wine Magazine and CNN

o   Named one of nine of the nation’s best purveyors of factory-free goods by Details Magazine

o   Awarded in 7 categories in the “Best of Salon Awards” of the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon 2010. Categories included Best Dark Chocolate, Best Truffle, Most Delicious Ingredient Combination, Best Dark Chocolate Bar, Best Organic or Fair Trade Product.


  1. From Pod To Chocolate | For Foods Sake - January 26, 2011

    [...] Chocolate Thursday, Febuary 17 at 7PM Kristen Hard of Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co  is one of  the few chocolatiers in the country to source her [...]