“Against all odds, you know, these growers who were at one time among thousands— and now we’re down to really a handful of growers— the best plots are the ones that have survived… the ones… that have remained really are the ones that are worth keeping.”-Ning-Geng Ong, Founder of Chocolate Concierge
For over a decade, Ning has been working in the chocolate industry on peninsular Malaysia. Under his brands Culture Cacao and Chocolate Concierge, he’s now growing, fermenting, and processing his own cacao beans into chocolate. Much of this work has been done alongside re-forestation projects done in the indigenous communities near his home in Kuala Lumpur.
So after a decade of work, why is Ning’s delicious chocolate only sold within Malaysia? Has he inspired a revitalization of Malaysia’s ancient, but dying, cacao culture? In this interview, we dig into the market void that brought Ning to where he is, and what he hopes to accomplish with his many projects over the next decade. I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation as much as I enjoyed having it.
Note that Malaysia was the topic of my interview with Ning, with the end product being the podcast episode on Malaysian cacao & chocolate.
Topics We Cover
- how Ning got started in the cacao fermentation & chocolate making business after returning to his native Malaysia
- recent history & the state of Malaysian cacao, especially as related to his current work with indigenous communities on the Peninsula
- the first few bars of chocolate & batches of fermented beans Ning ever made, and the current fermentation culture in Malaysia
- popular chocolate confectionery in Malaysia
- organic, agroforesty-style growth of cacao in pursuit of higher levels of biodiversity within Malaysia’s shrinking forests
- Peninsular Malaysia vs. Malaysian Borneo
- why Malaysian farmers may be switching to other crops
- the #EatLocal movement in Malaysia
Connect With Ning & Chocolate Concierge
Chocolate Concierge’s Website.
Chocolate Concierge on Instagram
Chocolate Concierge on Facebook,
Connect With Chocolate On The Road
On Instagram: @chocolateontheroad
On Facebook: @chocolateontheroad
Show music is Roadtrip by Phil Reavis, and our transition music is We’re Gonna Be Around by People Like Us & Sweet Dreams by Lobo Loco.
To listen to the previous episode, click here.