Cameroon – Euphrasie Mbamba, rising star of next gen bean-to-bar chocolate

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Born in Cameroon, with a rich cocoa savoir-faire handed down to her from her beloved Grandfather and his work on the family plantation, Euphrasie Mbamba was 10 when she moved to one of Europe’s premier chocolate nations, Belgium. When Euphrasie graduated from the ISTI (Institut supérieur de traducteurs et interprètes, Higher Institute of Translators and Interpreters of Brussels) she embarked on a career with the European Commission, working on cocoa-related documentation, a career that continued with the African Union and the Center for the Development of Enterprise (a joint institution of the African, Caribbean, Pacific Group of States and the European Union), before she branched out to practise as a language teacher.

© Sigoji

In 2013 when sadly her grandfather passed away, Euphrasie felt the need to change direction by going back to her roots and realizing her dream of becoming a master chocolatier. In 2014, following the required comprehensive training and learning (at the professional school of CEFOR in Namur, Callebaut, and Cacao Barry), Euphrasie took the leap and founded her own house of chocolate, which she named Sigōji; a name she invented by combining her sons’ names Siméo and Hugo with the famous ‘miracle’ Goji berry. With Sigōji, Euphrasie has passed through the portals to the world of luxury chocolate and widespread recognition.

It has taken very little time for this ‘new generation’ talent to gain a broad, loyal, and eager following. In 2016, Euphrasie won no less than three medals (two silver and a bronze) from the Salon du Chocolat de Bruxelles, which have served to springboard demand from customers and elite chefs alike. Jasmine, honey from Pessoux, saffron honey, the inimitable Cake of Dinant (melt in the mouth sweet biscuits), coffee and ginger from Cameroon, vanilla from Madagascar, salted butter, Pink Lady apples, mangoes, passion fruit, pecans and traditionally roasted Piedmont hazelnuts, and the Schlatin Elixir de Spa… Such a smooth combination of original and carefully considered flavors, textures and ingredients that wonderfully capture and meld the spirit, talent and traditions of both Cameroon and Wallonia. This rising star in the world of chocolate is placing her roots and the products from her native and adopted countries firmly center-stage, and more, for Euphrasie focuses in particular on the quality of her ingredients, working only with chocolate sourced from the best cocoa beans Cameroon, Haïti and Madagascar have to offer from within fair trade frameworks, and using the most direct business chains possible. This commitment and love for her craft has earned Euphrasie the Vitrine de l’Artisan competition accolade ‘Artisan 2017’, as well as  ‘Meilleur de l’année 2018’ [Best in 2018] by both Paris-Match and C’est du Belge, and most recently Euphrasie was crowned ‘Chocolatier de l’année 2019 en Wallonie’ [2019 chocolatier of the year - Belgium’s Wallon region] by the prestigious Gault&Millau guide.

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