An interview with Rita Hudetz, Hu Chocolate’s Chief Commercial Officer.
1) When, how and why was Hu Chocolate started? Hu Chocolate originated in the restaurant, Hu Kitchen, in NYC. Sibling co-founders Jordan Brown & Jessica Karp wanted a restaurant where they were comfortable with every ingredient, and in 2012 they founded the ultra clean-label paleo-inspired market and kitchen, Hu Kitchen. They couldn’t find a chocolate that was clean label enough for the restaurant so they created their own to use for baking. Soon they realized they had a hit and they turned the chocolate into bars. Then someone from Whole Foods saw it and picked it up — soon they were being sold throughout the NYC Metro area. In 2016 I joined the company as Chief Commercial Officer and we expanded our production so we could expand nationally and now are starting to bring our delicious chocolate around the country.
2) What is the most interesting thing you have learned about chocolate? That chocolate is a lot like wine — the source of the beans and how it is made are all very unique and small changes can produce big differences in flavor.
3) What are the biggest challenges or hurdles you face? Unlike conventional chocolates we don’t use any emulsifiers or stabilizers in our chocolate. A lot of those ingredients use GMO-ingredients or soy which we don’t use. Because of this we are very careful about keeping our chocolate cold in shipping to ensure the product arrives a the peak of freshness.
4) How do you balance sustainability with profitability? I think it is important to define your “north star” early–the things you won’t compromise on. For us, our “north star” is our specs — the things (on our website) which we tell us customers we won’t do. We live by the mantra “no weird ingredients.” We are always learning new things and trying to improve and there are some tough calls. But we always ask ourselves “would we be comfortable eating this?” If the answer is no, we don’t do it.
5) Excluding your own, what’s another natural food product(s) or brand that you always have at home and why? I’m really into Vital Proteins grass fed collagen peptides. I got a canister for free at a Hu Kitchen event and I started putting it in my coffee every morning. I can’t believe how much my hair and nails grew once I started using this–I’ve now turned all my friends on to it. I even got my grandma using it!