In Southern California there lives a family who makes pure magic. A special kind of real life Wonkaesque chocolate-filled operation being served out of a rabbit hole...actually, make that two rabbit holes, with their newly opened shop in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica. Zen, Bunni, and their daughter Alchemy along with a collective of independent biodynamic farmers come together to create one of a kind products that nourish you from within while giving back to the Earth. A team dedicated to sourcing from the best, their business breathes consciously, all the while producing high quality natural confectionaries that look and feel supreme. The crystal infused walls and ground create another layer of energy and Earth. One bite of their raw cacao chocolate will lead your tastebuds on a journey as your mind realizes you have finally tasted chocolate the way Mother Nature intended.
1. Would it be in humanity's best interest to forgo eating processed chocolate in exchange for raw cacao? If so, why is cacao so much better overall?
Yes, it would definitely benefit humanity and where we humans reside (this amazing planet!). The word "processed" already implies "excessive", and excess translates to inefficient. It equates to more time, more money, more energy, and sounds like moving in the opposite direction of "natural", "simple", and "pure". These words sound right. They feel better just to say, and resonate with our natural selves. It's an interesting thing to think that something that has been made perfectly since the beginning of time (think thousands and thousands of years ago) could be made better by some weird egoic technology that man came up with in the last few decades.
We are in a state of crisis because of excess. The two main things "processed food" has done are make us unhealthy and cause a disconnect from the cycle of life (all living things), including food. Once you "process" something, you've begun to denature it and strip away its magical genetic composition of wonderful minerals, vitamins, and vital nutrients. People are then, unfortunately, "tricked" into thinking (or unthinking) they are eating something that's going to nurture them while it does the reverse. So yes, forgo eating processed chocolate or any food that's processed, if possible. If you slip up, well, we're all human....don't judge yourself when doing it, and just move on.
Our cacao goes through very little "process". We aren't running it through huge machines at super high speeds and heating it for long periods of time to make it taste "exactly the same" every time, which is what the larger companies try to do. You may notice that most chocolate desserts and drinks taste the exact same at restaurants and bakeries; the truth is that they are making what the established "flavor profile" of chocolate in the world is. We're not going that way. We slowly and simply stone-grind our cacao, temper it at low temperatures, and make it into our microcosmic bars. Cacao is a medicinal food, packed with so many nutrients and bioactive compounds, and so much more that they are literally still discovering every year. So we keep it simple, pure, and clean while you get much more of those amazing vital nutrients than your typical "processed" chocolate bar would provide. Plus, you helped mother nature by not buying something that polluted her, stripped her of resources, and was most likely not made consciously.
2. How did you decide to make biodynamic cacao your main offering?
When we discovered the astonishing origins of cacao, its sacredness and power brought to light a new perspective on what we thought was just a sweet treat we were addicted to. We had no idea that this food we loved so much (but never felt good after eating) could be good for you and guilt-free. When we figured out how to make it in a holistic manner, it just seemed like the direction to go in. We made it just for ourselves, originally, but all our friends kept pestering us to sell it. When we finally did, it was very well received. That was 8 years ago...and we've been learning and evolving ever since, which led us to Biodynamic Farming.
The method, and devotion to the earth, blew us away. We noticed that it was relatively nonexistent in chocolate, so it made sense that we were the ones to steward at this level. This led to sourcing not only biodynamic cacao, but biodynamic jaggery (a primitive, mineral rich ayurvedic sugar), as well our spices, nuts, and oils from all over the world. Many of our fans have said that they "feel" our chocolate--typically it is other senses that perceive food, but to "feel" it is something special. Our intention has always been pure: to heal the earth and each other. This, in conjunction with our ingredients being grown in such a revered manner, synergizes to create this magical offering.
3. What is your favorite part of the biodynamic process? Do you two ever personally get your hands into the ground during the process?
We love the entire process and the fact that it's "such" a process. While very difficult and time-consuming, it's done so that the earth reaps the benefit and that the person eating gets to experience what food is supposed to taste and feel like. We are firm believers of major and subtle energy being a factor, which this method of farming acknowledges and puts it into practice. We want to share this method of farming and other "beyond organic" styles to the masses so we can make real change now. We feel that we can reach many more people by crafting the business, marketing, and production side of our brand rather than actually spending time farming at this point in our lives. We truly would like to do it the other way around, but if that were the case our chocolate company wouldn't exist! In the near future we hope to have our hands in nutrient-rich living soil most of the time, but for now, we want to empower the few biodynamic farmers in the world and get them more land!
4. Can you tell us more detail about your two "rabbit holes" and why you chose Venice and Santa Monica as your two locations? Congratulations on the new grand opening of your second shop, by the way!
Thank you!!! We've had a ZenBunni Gallery/Shop since 2007, but it wasn't just chocolate. It was filled with our art, antiques, and amazing jewelry. Only in this last iteration of retail did we decide to just do chocolate. We had an opportunity to rent a tiny, tiny space on Abbot Kinney in Venice 2 years ago and thought it would be a perfect "rabbit hole". It was so small we felt that we could pull off a wild idea of literally making it look like a rabbit hole. So we brought truckloads of clay-rich mud from our property in Topanga Canyon, then mixed it with sand, straw, and actual chocolate to create a "chocolate cobb" shop. It has become quite an attraction and has the sweetest little vibe.
We just literally opened up our second location inside the iconic Fairmont Hotel on Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica last month, and it's a more refined version of a "rabbit hole". We still used clay infused with chocolate, but did more of a "Wonkadelic California" cabin ode with reclaimed redwood to match the hotel. We love the idea of being in hotels and would love to branch out more into this world. We get to meet people from all walks of the Earth and they get to experience our expression of California craftsmanship. The outreach graces so far with a hotel. Since most people don't know what biodynamic farming or stone-ground healthy chocolate is, we feel blessed to share that with them.
5. What does the future hold for ZenBunni?
Hopefully lots and lots and lots of land being preserved. Also, helping as many people as possible to find their natural self again. If people could truly get that, then they wouldn't unconsciously spend their money on food and things that hurt the earth and themselves. If we can continue to wake people up with chocolate then the future is looking very bright and healthy!!!
Visit the ZenBunni website to learn more, shop, and find their products.