Chef Selassie Atadika finds inspiration anywhere and everywhere.
Whether it’s a meal she loved or a spice she discovered at the marketplace, Atadika, founder of Midunu Chocolates, aims to honor her Ghanaian roots and share the beauty of African ingredients with chocolate lovers through truffles and drinking chocolate.
Candy Industry recently spoke to Atadika about the founding of Midunu Chocolates, the company’s recent recognition at the 2021 Chocolate Alliance Awards and the significance of creating fine chocolates in Ghana, the second largest cocoa producer in the world.
CI: How did you get involved in the culinary space? How would you describe your experience?
SA: I always loved to cook and took opportunities to learn about food and cook whenever I got the chance. While working for the UN, I traveled to over 40 African countries and got to taste some delicious dishes and meet amazing producers. I also started to see how food tied people together to create economies and solve social issues. So I took courses at the Culinary Institute of America and began Midunu in Ghana. It's been challenging but rewarding.
CI: When did you launch Midunu Chocolates?
SA: We launched the chocolates in 2015 in Ghana and started offering our products in the U.S. in November 2020.
CI: How did you come upon the Midunu name? Is there meaning behind it?
SA: My mother tongue is Ewe. Before starting to eat a meal, Ewe people say “Midunu,” which means “Let us eat,” inviting all those present to partake in the food which we are blessed to have. I love that philosophy and want to share it with others through my company.
CI: What drew you to chocolate as a medium?
SA: Transformation can start when you combine what you know with what you don't know. Chocolate is very approachable, and most people love it. So, I saw it as a great foundation to introduce the spices and flavors of the African continent.
CI: How would you describe your approach to developing truffle flavors? Do you have a favorite truffle that you've created?
SA: Inspiration comes to me from everywhere. It might be a fruit or spice I see in the market, an ingredient I taste in a dish or a memory that comes to me from childhood. So I try to see how it would pair with chocolate and then play with it in our kitchen. Hmmm — no favorite truffle. The ingredients and the stories behind them make it hard to choose.
CI: How do you source cocoa and other ingredients?
SA: We are chocolatiers and purchase our couverture from a local producer who buys the beans from licensed buying companies. We purchase our herbs and spices from local producers, farmers and market women. Some of the herbs are actually grown in our garden.
CI: What does it mean to you to produce chocolates in Ghana?
SA: I'm most proud of being part of a movement that changes the narrative and role cocoa-producing countries play in the work economy. I am honored to be among the first artisanal Ghanaian chocolate companies to bring made-in-Ghana chocolate directly to consumers. By being a part of our community, consumers are changing the tide. No longer is cocoa just a commodity to be extracted from our shores — it is an opportunity to create value and equitable jobs for everyone along the supply chain and showcase Africa's beauty and rich flavors.
CI: Your chocolate was recognized in the 2021 Chocolate Alliance Awards. Can you elaborate on that distinction?
SA: We are super excited to have our products and African ingredients acknowledged by the Chocolate Alliance Awards. These awards are part of the Northwest Chocolate Festival, one of the largest gatherings of artisan chocolate makers globally. Our Adwoa Dark Drinking Chocolate was awarded Gold, while our Kukua truffle (moringa and white chocolate) was granted Silver.
CI: Are there any future plans to expand Midunu Chocolates?
SA: We are going to offer new flavors and products every season. For example, we are excited to launch chocolate bars later this year. We are focusing on the U.S. market now but hope to bring on new markets in the coming years.