We all love chocolate right? Now the island is getting its own artisanal bar of chocolatey lovlieness that’s funky, Fair Trade and eco-friendly. May Mahmoud, founder of Bare, tells us more.
May’s family started Tariq Pastries in the Kingdom more than 30 years ago. She says: “I grew up surrounded by chocolates and sweets at my family’s business, Tariq Pastries. When you are exposed to that world at a very young age you begin to develop a taste for fine ingredients and unusual flavour combinations.”
She went on to live in Paris, where she trained as a pastry chef, and continues: “Paris is a laboratory of ideas when it comes to confectionery and I would spend my days exploring the offerings at the city’s many patisseries that would combine exotic flavours from all over the world such as Darjeeling-infused éclairs at Fauchon or Matcha-flavoured confections at Toraya.
“When I returned to Bahrain, I started my own business, creating custom cakes and pastries that combined local flavours with the French pastry techniques I had learnt. But over time I also began to think about making that cross-cultural culinary experience accessible to a broader audience and, for me, the chocolate bar was the perfect starting point.
“Bare Chocolates began life based on this idea. It was a dream shared by my brother Tariq and I, to create the Middle East’s first artisanal chocolate bar. During our travels we noticed the emergence of artisanal chocolate brands focused on quality ingredients. While doing our own research in Bahrain and the Gulf, we quickly discovered that the average consumer could tell the difference between cheap chocolate and premium chocolate.”
The pair teamed up with a Swiss chocolatier and have just launched their first products into the market.
May explains: “Bare Chocolates was born with a simple idea: To create a selection of chocolate bars featuring local flavours made with a combination of organic and Fair Trade ingredients and the classic techniques of Swiss chocolatiers. We were very much interested in a cross-cultural collaboration and looked to Switzerland, which has a long history and expertise in chocolate making. We wanted to tap into that know-how to offer consumers the highest quality product possible. We wanted to team up with a factory known for producing artisanal chocolate bars made in small batches, with the cocoa content clearly indicated on the front of each wrapper.”
It took several years of research and then a further two to find the right factory and ingredients. “The purpose wasn’t to grow quickly, but to establish a thoughtful and sustainable product,” says May.
“Early on, we wanted to create a company committed to quality, environmental sustainability and ethical business practices. As a result our chocolate bars are Fair Trade certified to ensure the cocoa farmers we work with receive a fair price and are able to provide their families with better nutrition, access to healthcare, education and re-invest in their farms. We have also partnered with Myclimate to reduce our carbon emissions by printing our packaging on recycled materials. Additionally, all carbon emissions which are generated during the manufacturing of Bare chocolates are offset by the Myclimate seal of approval.
We also support a variety of Myclimate protected projects with a financial contribution.
“As the first organic and Fair Trade chocolate bar in the Middle East, our founding principle is to produce the finest artisanal chocolate bars in the region, in an entirely ethical and sustainable manner.”
Hundreds of studies indicate dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants and flavonoids that promote healthy hearts, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Bare’s premium dark chocolate has a high percentage of cocoa, which contains a multitude of vitamins as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Being Fair Trade, it’s also certified GMO-free.
Eating dark chocolate also releases serotonin which helps alleviate depression, reduce stress and boost energy. And, if you needed any more convincing, Bare comes in a range of flavours including dark chocolate infused with organic orange, candied ginger, lemon and black pepper.
May adds: “We are constantly experimenting with new flavours, especially those reflecting the Gulf’s culinary traditions.”
The line will initially be available at Tariq Pastries and it’s hoped to establish a network of retailers who align with company’s ethical company mission.