Mary Heavey, Chocolatier at Beanpod

photo by Henry Georgi

Sixteen years ago while on their honeymoon in St Lucia and Granada Mary and James Heavey visited some cacao plantations. Intrigued by the experience Mary decided that she wanted to know more about how to transform the cacao bean into chocolate. Back home in the UK, Mary took a few online courses and began to experiment with making chocolate. Eventually she decided to get serious and started taking traditional chocolate making courses in places like Chicago, Montreal and Italy. Once she decided to pursue this as a profession, she completed a Maitre Chocolatier France from L’Art Chocolat and Gelato and Pastry Institute. Mary then had to source the equipment needed to get into small scale manufacturing which took her throughout Europe.

Mary firmly believes in the purity of traditional practices, sacrificing modern speed for old fashioned quality and freshness - which means each batch of her fresh chocolate takes days rather than the hours modern manufacturing practices take. This time-intensive process allows for maximum flavour and texture. She uses directly imported cacao beans from a farm in Ecuador, where her husband James has visited forming a relationship with the farmer. They adhere to strict environmental and sustainable practices and do not use artificial ingredients or preservatives.

It is obvious Mary is passionate about her work.

“Chocolate is a great medium to work with and after being a hobby for years it’s great to be able to offer people a natural, high quality and ethical alternative. My work day is filled with chocolate tasting... It’s a tough job but someone has to do it!”
When it was time to set up shop, James and Mary went looking for a place that would fit their criteria of a great place to raise four children and found everything they were looking for in Fernie.

“This town offers a great family environment with lots of recreational activities both in and out of school, an excellent French Immersion program and no commuting, which means more family time.”

Mary Heavey is one of only a few traditional chocolate makers in the world, and she lives right here in Fernie. She shared this recipe with us.

Traditional European Hot Chocolate ~1500AD

50 cocoa beans
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 black pepper grain
1 whole clove
Seeds from half a vanilla pod
Pinch of achiote
Ground almonds, hazelnuts and sugar
Pint of milk

Roast the cocoa beans in a hot skillet for approximately 12 minutes and remove the shells. Grind the roasted beans with the spices and vanilla into a pulp. Heat the milk (to about 75C) and add the pulp slowly, whilst whisking continuously. Add sugar to taste and ground nuts if desired. Serve immediately

Achiote is a rust colored seed that is harvested from the annatto shrub to produce the achiote spice.