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Meet Maya Schoop-Rutten of Chocolate Maya

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maya Schoop-Rutten.

Hi Maya, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
When I was in my early 20s, I left my hometown, Geneva, for a beautiful, sunny, Greek island– any easy decision at the time. After a few years, a handsome crew of sailors asked my friend and me to help sail their boat back to the South of France– another easy decision. That trip was so exciting, I decided I wanted to travel the world working on boats. After a few years working as a “galley-girl”, my crew was fortunate to dock in Santa Barbara. I fell in love with the small, funky town, and of course, the unbeatable nature. But there was one thing missing: chocolate! Santa Barbara didn’t have a place to buy fine chocolates like the ones I had grown up with in Switzerland. I decided to open a shop myself and went back to Switzerland to study chocolate-making with the talented and generous Jeremy Ramsauer of La Chocolaterie. Afterward, I set about creating confections in our on-site kitchen using the world’s finest chocolate couverture and fresh ingredients from the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market. 14 years later, I’m still here and still learning and teaching about every stage of the chocolate life-cycle: from its origins in the tropics, where farmers grow, dry, and ferment the chocolate, to the intricacies of its processing. Adventure and discovery are still my greatest passions, which is why our shop aims to help chocolate-lovers discover the world through their taste buds. Some things never change.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I’ve always been a really hard worker, but the hardest part of my life was after I fell in love with Santa Barbara and decided to immigrate. This was before I was interested in making chocolate, and without an education or a professional experience besides working as a cook, I was genuinely afraid of becoming homeless here. I wouldn’t have made it without the help of my friends and to this day, I try my best to help other people who want to make it in beautiful California.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Chocolate Maya?
At Chocolate Maya, we help chocolate-lovers discover the world through their taste buds. We make confections in our on-site kitchen using the world’s finest chocolate couverture and all-natural, fresh ingredients from the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market. We also curate a selection of the best craft chocolate bars in the world.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
1. Passion for your work makes working hard easy. So it’s critical that you love what you do.
2. Be aware of and be an advocate for every group that makes your business possible. For example, in the chocolate industry, it’s important that chocolatiers like me learn and teach others about who grows the cacao beans that are at the origin of our chocolate confections.
3. Other than that, be generous. Give abundantly to people who want to learn or need help – what goes around comes around.

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