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How A Designer Traveled 780 mi to Make Her Own Chocolate Flavor

August 03rd, 2022

Sjaak’s Third Annual Sjaakolate Chocolate Making Competition

Meet Ellyza.

Meet Ellyza. A designer and content creator working at Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates for over two years on the Creative & Branding team. Ellyza is based in San Diego and works remotely as the factory is based up north in Blue Lake, California.

Q: What do your typical day-to-day duties look like?

Ellyza: I design our marketing emails, meet often with our CBO (Chief Branding Officer), sort designs and design packaging, make content for social media, interact with our followers, do photo shoots, and videography. 

With a small and close Creative & Branding team, Ellyza often wears many hats and holds a lot of responsibility. From designing the wrappers that encase the very chocolates many of you enjoy, to the artsy and appetizing reels on our Instagram page (and more directly, answering your Q&A submissions) you can definitely hear her voice at the company.

Chocolate, Nostalgia & the Great Outdoors

For the past three years, Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates has held an annual event for our internal team, the Great Sjaakolate Competition, where team members from all over California come together and submit an original flavor idea. I asked Ellyza about her experience making chocolate for the first time.

Ellyza and her chocolate flavor idea: Strawberries and Cream with Granola Chocolate Bar

Q:  Have you ever attended one of Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates Sjaakolate Competition before? What was your overall experience like?

Ellyza: Due to the pandemic, we did have a virtual event last year but it was a little different. Luckily I was able to attend this year’s event in-person. It was really fun, but a little intimidating since I didn’t know what I was getting into. It was my first time going to Blue Lake for the competition and making chocolate. But Sergio, one of our lead chocolate makers, really helped me out with my idea…I was excited that the chocolate I made could potentially be a flavor.

Q:  What was your chocolate flavor idea?

Ellyza: My idea was a strawberries and cream with granola chocolate bar!

Q:  And what inspired your flavor idea?

Ellyza: One of my favorite activities is to hike, climb and run! Granola is a favorite source of “fuel” when I visit the outdoors. And I thought of strawberries and cream because it was one of my favorite childhood flavors. I wanted a chocolate flavor that blended my love of the outdoors with something nostalgic.

Q:  That sounds really thoughtful. How did you decide which chocolate to make?

Ellyza: Right, so at Sjaak’s there are several mold types for our products such as the truffle, bite, or bar. I chose the bar because it felt simple. It seemed like the easiest form of chocolate to bring on a hike.

Strawberries and Cream with Granola Chocolate Bar

Q:  You got to make the chocolate yourself. What was your favorite step in the chocolate-making process and why? to make?

Ellyza: I actually really enjoyed mixing all the ingredients together. I knew I wanted a lot of granola and for the granola texture to be prominent. So getting to control how much of each ingredient to add was satisfying.

Q:  You got to make the chocolate yourself. What was your favorite step in the chocolate-making process and why? to make?

Ellyza: I actually really enjoyed mixing all the ingredients together. I knew I wanted a lot of granola and for the granola texture to be prominent. So getting to control how much of each ingredient to add was satisfying.

Q:  You met many other team members as a part of Sjaak’s. What was one role (or more) you got to learn about through your experience at the event?

Ellyza: Definitely learning more about the chocolate-making process and the qualities that our chocolate makers (at Sjaak’s, we like to call them Sjaakalotiers) have. I was impressed by the Sjaakalotier’s efficiency– how each person alone had a single role, whether it’s molding or mixing, but as a team moved the chocolate making along fluidly. Also, I love the sense of community and closeness the factory staff have. It almost felt like they were a family welcoming me into their home. It was super chill and laid back.

” I was impressed by the Sjaakalotier’s efficiency– how each person alone had a single role, whether it’s molding or mixing, but as a team moved the chocolate making along fluidly.”

The Great Sjaakolate Competition was a fun opportunity for our team to voice their ideas and be creative. The success of these flavors really was a fruit of the collaboration between our lead chocolate-makers and competitors.

The competition offered a space for our community to be bold and bring their ideas to life. From “Baklava” to “Banana Sundae,” it was exciting to see and try what exciting flavors our team came up with. Whether comfort, nostalgia, preference, or perhaps pure curiosity—each chocolate brought to the judging table a little peek into people’s thoughts and backgrounds.

Golden Melk

FLAVORS FROM THIS YEAR’S TASTING

Banana Sundae (WINNER), Golden Melk (Second), Pumpkin Cheesecake (Third)
First Place: Banana Sundae
Second Place: Golden Melk
Third Place: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Hojicha Hazelnut

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by Nina Kitapan, Contributor

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