Greenstone tablet depicting lord grasping a cacao tree as a staff. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. Peabody Museum Expedition, 1907-1910. Image © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, PM# 10-71-20/C7410, (digital file # 60741111)

Cacao: The Story of Chocolate

Talk & Tasting


Museum Lecture Hall

Discover the rich history of cacao from its origins as a frothy, bitter beverage prized by ancient Mesoamerican societies, through its introduction into the 16th century courts of Europe, and to the bean-to-bar craft traditions practiced in Los Angeles today. A panel of experts explores the global journey of cacao as well as the traditional practices and more modern inventions that inform the art of chocolate making. After the talk, indulge in the ancient flavors of cacao beverages, sample flights of artisanal chocolates and enjoy chocolate-inspired desserts. Compliments the exhibition Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas. Tickets $45 or $65 with wine/champagne/port pairing (21 and over for pairing option). Complimentary parking.

Maite Gomez-Rejón is the founder of ArtBites, art and culinary history combined with hands-on cooking instruction, which she teaches at museums across the country. Maite has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Grande Diplome from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. She has been a guest on the Today Show, featured in Food & Wine magazine, and interviewed on KCRW's Good Food and NPR's Splendid Table. She is also a contributor to Life & Thyme, the Huffington Post, and other publications.

Sarah Portnoy received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and teaches about Latino food and food justice in the Departments of Spanish and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She has published a number of food-related articles and essays as well as her recent book, Food, Health, and Culture in Latino Los Angeles.

Patricia Tsai is the owner of the bean-to-bar chocolate company ChocoVivo where she handcrafts small batches of dark chocolate using traditional Mayan methods dating back over 2,000 years. Tsai works with growers to select specially fermented beans for a unique flavor, and uses whole cacao nibs and whole spices as Mother Nature intended.

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