Tom Rath, Robert Piron and Fred Piron of Belgian Chocolatier Piron and Callebaut ambassador Robert Bennett in the Callebaut van. Photo by Genie Lemieux, Evanston Photographic Studios

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The Callebaut chocolate company’s 2015 Beanology
Illinois Tour made a stop at Belgian Chocolatier Piron, Inc., on July 30.

The 1960s-style Volkswagen bus is painted a rich chocolate color with a white-chocolate-ish roof. Upon further inquiry, guests could find within a pictorial description of Callebaut’s proprietary bean-to-chocolate process, called Beanology.

The purpose of the Callebaut tour is “to highlight the small shops, such as Peron that do everything by hand,” said Miriam Madrigal, marketing manager for Callebaut.

Robert Piron, one of the owners of the artisan chocolate shop on Main Street, said the company “always uses Callebaut. It’s one of the best chocolates in the world, and it is true to my heritage. In 30 years there has never been a variation in flavor. It’s a very high-end chocolate and a very ethical company.”

Chocolate-lovers and Piron aficionados were treated to samples of Piron chocolate as they wandered between the van and the chocolate shop. Behind the chocolates displayed on shelves behind customer-proof glass was a sculpture made entirely of chocolate, created in about two days by Mr. Piron.

In 1911, Octaaf Callebaut founded Chocolaterie Callebaut in Wieze, Belgium. In 1996 Callebaut merged with French chocolate maker Cacao Barry, and the company is now called Barry Callebaut.

The company is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, and the beans are grown principally in West Africa, but the chocolate-making takes place entirely in Belgium, “using Belgian milk and Belgian sugar,” said Ms. Madrigal.

Callebaut was Belgium’s first chocolate brand to shift to sustainably grown cocoa for all its Finest Belgian Chocolate recipes. Its Growing Great Chocolate program, launched in 2012, is aimed at making cocoa cultivation a sustainable source of income for West African farmers.

Full disclosure: The mission of the RoundTable is “to search for truth and
the finest chocolate.”


Crazy for Cocoa

By Matthew Dahlman

Commonly thought to be fattening, high in cholesterol and generally unhealthy, chocolate has always been a guilty pleasure for dieters.  That could change as new studies emerge showing the various health benefits of chocolate. The claims include chocolate’s being an antidepressant, its lowering of oxidation levels in the body and helping build a stronger vascular system. These alleged benefits all stem from one small seed, the cocoa bean. The cocoa bean is grown from the Theobroma Cacao tree found in Central America, Mexico, and primarily in West Africa. Cocoa beans are the source of many of chocolate’s benefits. The more cocoa the chocolate contains the healthier it is and the more chocolate that can be consumed without worrying about health risks. Dark chocolates tend to contain a higher percentage of cocoa.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...