Raising the Bar: Chocolate's History, Art, and Taste With Sophia Contreras Rea
In this three-part seminar, trace the history of cacao and learn how to experience chocolate like a sommelier.
Join chocolate sommelier Sophia Contreras Rea for a journey through the rich history of cacao, the art of chocolate making, and the many ways people have taken pleasure in and made meaning from chocolate. We’ll start with its origins, exploring how the roots of chocolate are intertwined with those of the art world. We’ll then look at chocolate in contemporary culture, and explore what kinds of forms it may take in the future. Along the way, we’ll taste and create various chocolate products, exploring how aroma, surroundings, and ritual affect the tasting experience—wrapping up with an exercise in chocolate pairings. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to purchase, pair, and experience chocolate with the context of a historian, the eye of an artist, and the vocabulary of a sommelier.
Please note: At this time, we're only able to ship materials to students living in the U.S., Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia.
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Syllabus at a Glance
This course includes three total sessions, each lasting for 1.5 hours.
Winter Section A: MeetsSaturday beginning January 21.
Students must register for the course and order their chocolate tasting kit by Saturday, January 14 to receive their chocolate tasting kit in advance of the first session. Please see below for more information on the chocolate tasting kit.
Session 1 (Saturday, 1/21, 2–3:30 PM ET)| From the Aztecs to French Royalty to the Chocolate Chip Cookie: Tasting through time
Session 2 (Saturday, 1/28, 2–3:30 PM ET)| Art and Chocolate: Virtual museum tour
Session 3 (Saturday, 2/4, 2–3:30 PM ET)| Tasting Like a Sommelier: Inclusions and infusions
Winter Section B: Meets Sundays beginning February 19.
Students must register for the course and order their chocolate tasting kit by Sunday, February 12 to receive their chocolate tasting kit in advance of the first session. Please see below for more information on the chocolate tasting kit.
Session 1 (Sunday, 2/19, 2–3:30 PM ET)| From the Aztecs to French Royalty to the Chocolate Chip Cookie: Tasting through time
Session 2 (Sunday, 2/26, 2–3:30 PM ET)| Art and Chocolate: Virtual museum tour
Session 3 (Sunday, 2/5, 2–3:30 PM ET)| Tasting Like a Sommelier: Inclusions and infusions
Students are required to purchase a chocolate tasting kit ($65 + shipping), which includes chocolate for each session and access to digital downloads. To ensure kits arrive in time, students are asked to purchase them by Saturday, January 15 for Winter Section A or Sunday, February 12 for Winter Section B.
At this time, kits may only be shipped within the U.S., Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia.
Please note that one chocolate in the kit contains nuts and additional products in the kit may contain dairy and/or are made in a facility that processes nuts.
In addition to full-price tickets, a limited number of no-pay spots are available for this course. Please note that these tickets are reserved for those who would not otherwise be able to take this course and who expect to attend all sessions. No-pay spots are distributed via a randomized drawing two weeks before each course begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.
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Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.
Sophia Contreras Rea is a chocolate sommelier and former chef to entertainers and celebrities. Hailing from a few generations of noted restaurateurs, Rea is adept in many cuisines. But her greatest professional love over the years has been providing refined chocolate tastings in the tradition of the Slow Food movement. In 2012, Rea started Projet Chocolat, a company devoted to, in her words, “elevating the culture and enjoyment of chocolate.” With a line of elegantly-designed products, from aromatics kits to storage sleeves, Projet Chocolat helps celebrate the pleasures of tasting chocolate rather than just merely eating it.
“Chocolate is more complex than we know,” Rea says. “And I'd like to help teach people how to slow down, understand where chocolate really comes from. I think there's joy in chocolate. And what could be better than to bring joy, happiness, something wonderful, something beautiful into people's lives? That's where I'm coming from with Projet Chocolat. That's my goal.”
- Bill Demain, contributor to Mojo, Classic Rock and Entertainment Weekly.
This is an interactive, small-group seminar that meets over Zoom. Students may be encouraged to participate in discussions, work on assignments outside of class, and workshop projects with their instructor or classmates. Due to the interactive nature of this course, we strongly recommend students attend as many live sessions as possible. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.
Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.
We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.
There are 24 spots available on this experience.