Syovata Edari, owner of Black Restaurant Week participant CocoVaa.

Competing with some of the best foreign and domestic fine chocolate artisans in the world, Madison’s own CocoVaa Chocolatier has been awarded a prestigious 6-Star Grand Master title by the International Chocolate Salon and named as a top chocolatier in America.

CocoVaa Chocolatier was one of only eight other chocolatiers out of more than 100 from around the world to be awarded the highest ranking six-star title of “Grand Master.” The Salon’s selection of Vata Edari, owner and principal chocolatier of CocoVaa Chocolatier, came as a surprise to veteran Madison trial lawyer who said that she didn’t expect to be on the International Chocolate Salon Awards list. “Actually I was looking through all of the chocolatiers and looking at the longs lists saying to myself, ‘I’m not on there. I’m not on there. Not there either,’” Edari tells Madison365.

Edari then went over to the very the short list. The “Grand Master” list. “I just glanced at my name and glossed right over it because I didn’t expect to be on that list,” Edari laughs. “And then I was like, ‘Wait a minute! That’s us!’ I was amazed because there are some really good, quality chocolatiers on that list.”

The juried awards are based on the combined total number of gold and silver awards received by each entrant in the previous year. Some of the best chocolatiers from around the world compete in the Salon every year. In 2017, Edari was in business less than a year before winning several gold, silver and bronze awards in various categories for her unique creations. She won gold awards for her hazelnut macchiato, cardamom pear, morello cherry caramel, her rose bar, and her black sesame bar made with single origin white chocolate she sources from a family owned company in Columbia. Edari earned awards in every category she entered and every entry she submitted won an award.

“This is a big deal. I’m so happy about it,” Edari says. “For me, as a start-up, this is wonderful. I haven’t even been in business for a year and I’m coming from a totally different industry [as a 16-year trial lawyer] that is not really creative.

“But I’ve really worked my butt off for this. I get like three hours a sleep at night sometimes. And I’ve invested a lot of money,” she adds. “Being an entrepreneur can be really tough. But this is another thing that makes me proud. It’s another white-male-dominated industry. You will find that there are very, very few African-American chocolatiers. So, I’m proud of that, too.”

Edari adds that she hopes that the exposure and accolades she is getting will help young people of color to feel like this is something that they can do, too. “This is an industry that we haven’t explored nearly as much as we should – fine food/gourmet food/fine chocolate industry. It’s science, it’s art … and it’s for us, too,” Edari says.

Edari’s “nano-factory” and small, retail shop is located at 1 Sherman Terrace on Madison’s north side where she keeps limited hours. You can visit her online by clicking here.

Written by David Dahmer

David Dahmer

A. David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Madison365.