Executing those initiatives is largely the responsibility of Grenada Tourism Authority CEO Petra Roach, who touted her organization’s efforts to “visit organic cocoa plantations and chocolate makers nestled in Grenada’s lush rainforest, hear the story of Grenada’s chocolate, make their own chocolate potions, and indulge in delicious chocolate-inspired cuisine and cocoa-infused island life.”
One evening at Calabash’s amber-lit Rhodes Restaurant, I ravenously cut into a braised beef short rib, paired with a creative combination of flavors: cacao-buttered mashed potatoes with freshly grated nutmeg, caramelized papaya, and ancho pepper-chocolate demi sauce (think: mole gone Grenadian)—all garnished with crunchy cacao nibs. For dessert, I devoured a sublime breadfruit, a tropical starch drizzled with a velvety white chocolate ganache.
Ramces Castillo, the executive chef at Calabash, believes that amid the fusion of African, European, Indian, and Caribbean influences within Grenadian cuisine, the unconventional use of chocolate in dishes makes Grenada—named “Culinary Capital” by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) in 2021—a “playground for chefs.”
Chef Andre Church of The X-Perience by Chef X-treme, an all-inclusive dinner service for private homes and yachts, makes innovative use of the island’s chocolate in his herb-crusted fish filet with al dente pasta and cocoa spice spinach sauce. In addition, Belinda Bishop’s Flavours of Grenada facilitates authentic gastronomic experiences that expose visitors to Grenadian chefs experimenting with cocoa.
Grenada is also one of the few places in the world where chocolate is produced from bean to bar, meaning the farmers are involved in every step of the process, from harvesting to roasting to grinding and molding. That helps ensure that the chocolate is fresh, pure, and ethically produced—and more profits are staying with chocolate-makers themselves.
“In the past as a region, we’ve been guilty of selling our beans to the highest bidder and allowing the money to leave our shores with beans inside sacks,” says Aaron Sylvester, head of Tri-Island. “We are […] rewriting that narrative and decolonizing the market bean by bean.”
“There’s no denying that Grenada’s chocolate-makers are harnessing the essence of the island’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit,” says Naguib Sawaris, the owner of luxury developer Joyau de Caraibes Ltd. Sawaris’s company, in addition to its landmark Silversands resort, has an expanding portfolio of five-star hospitality plays on the island, including soon-to-open Beach House, which will feature chocolate prominently at its restaurants and spa. “We believe that by enhancing our visitors’ experience with the delicious flavors of Grenadian chocolate, we’re also contributing to the growth and development of the local economy.”
In St. Andrew parish, Garbutt at L’Esterre says that she sees a bright future for the collegial chocolatiers of Grenada, most of whom have also built export markets in the U.S. and Europe. As we spoke, storm clouds accumulated overhead, ready to douse the cacao trees with some much-needed rainfall. Nearby, pink cone ginger, silk cotton trees, and soursop trees ornamented the landscape.
“We have always worked collaboratively and supported each other instead of competing,” Garbutt says. “We often share equipment, knowledge and know-how, facilities, and customers […] Our collective goal is to put Grenadian chocolate on the map.”