Chocolate and psychology an interview with Kalei Ross

by | Jun 13, 2023 | Chocolate Information

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Step into the enchanting world of chocolate, where seductive flavors dance on your palate and intricate stories unfold. In this delectable journey, we are thrilled to present an exclusive interview with the acclaimed author, Kalei Ross, the mastermind behind the Gourmand Award-winning book, “In Pursuit of Purity: The Paris Chocolate Files.”

In this interview, we have the opportunity to dive into the mind of an expert who has dedicated her life to unraveling the intricate relationship between chocolate and psychology. 

Congratulations on winning the Gourmand Award for “In Pursuit of Purity, The Paris Chocolate Files”. It is an amazing achievement and one that comes with increased visibility. How has your chocolate life changed since publishing your book and receiving this award?

Thank you so much! Since publishing my book, I have had the opportunity to talk more about what I have learned about the chocolate industry and to share the joys of chocolate with others; not just as a substance to consume, but as an actual tool to make changes in the lives of those who are struggling with loneliness and/or relationship issues.

What are some of your responsibilities as a “Chocolate and Relationship Expert”?

I have the unique opportunity of merging my past training and experience in Clinical Psychology and my love and expertise in chocolate to curate chocolate tastings with a unique edge, as they are not only designed to educate people about chocolate and guide them in using their senses to experience chocolate more fully, but also provide “food for thought” when it comes to enhancing relationships. 

How can chocolate be used to help enhance relationships?

While people disagree on most things in life, 9 out of 10 people like chocolate. So I developed “chocolate connection experiences” where I use chocolate as a “neutral” starting point to draw people into an engagement and assist them in becoming more cognizant of the input they are receiving through their senses. I then guide people in seeing the connection between how our senses serve as both barriers and pathways to connecting with others so they can make necessary mindset changes in order to enhance their relationships, whether they be acquaintances, business-related, work-related, or intimate relationships.

What kinds of connections can people make through chocolate?

Chocolate can serve as the vehicle to help people take that first initial step to connect with others. Many people turn to various substances, like alcohol, to build up the courage to talk to someone. However, why resort to alcohol when chocolate is a mood enhancer? It releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. When you’re feeling happy, you’re more likely to converse with others, even complete strangers.

Second, chocolate shows how much you care about someone. How do you feel when someone shares a piece of chocolate with you? The mere act of sharing sends the message that you value the person and their company, thus making your guest much more receptive to engaging in a conversation. In addition, the act of showing kindness through sharing boosts our level of oxytocin, the chemical associated with bonding. So when you share chocolate with someone, it facilitates a shared experience that cultivates forming a bond with someone.

Third, while many people struggle with coming up with topics of conversation, chocolate can serve as a great icebreaker. Talking about a universally well-loved food item is an easy and non-threatening way to start a conversation.

Can you tell us more about your time in Paris and how the city inspired you to write Pursuit of Purity?

Prior to going to Paris, I was merely a chocolate consumer that didn’t give a second thought to what I was eating. All I cared about was that it was chocolate. I can thank Paris for opening my eyes to the beauty and vast diversity in flavors and aromas of chocolate. Paris is where I literally fell in love with chocolate! I initially wrote “In Pursuit of Purity, The Paris Chocolate Files” as a scrapbook for my daughter (who was only a month and a half old when I started writing the book) to chronicle my Parisian chocolate adventures; something I hoped we could experience together. Little did I know that others would be interested in it and that it would turn into a book!  

Can you share more details about your chocolate-tasting events?

Aside from the “chocolate connection experiences” that I lead, my primary focus with chocolate-tasting events is providing a truly unique bean-to-bar experience. I worked with a local chocolate maker to select the cacao beans used to create the chocolate bars in the tasting kit. As a result, I have the opportunity to introduce people to the actual beans that the chocolate is made from, share more about how cacao is grown and processed, and help people become more cognizant of what their senses are experiencing. 

Tell us more about your “chocolate connection experiences,” which offer tools for connecting and enhancing communication in relationships from the boardroom to the bedroom.

A “chocolate connection experience” is not your average chocolate tasting. For the purposes of team building, chocolate tasting is used as an experiential process for people to engage in seven cooperation skills that are essential to the healthy functioning of any company. 

Facilitating cooperation is essential for team growth and growth in all relationships. I can personally attest to that as chocolate has done wonders for facilitating growth and quality time with my husband. 

Just as I work to assist teams, it’s my desire to assist couples in growing in their relationships through enjoying both chocolate and each other.

Who would have thought that chocolate could be used to strengthen relationships and improve team productivity?

What are your future plans? How will you inspire the upcoming generations to lean more into chocolate interpersonal experiences?

The US Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy, released an advisory noting the “epidemic of loneliness and isolation”. Can you believe that loneliness and isolation have reached such highs that it is described as an “epidemic”? Dr. Murthy also noted that social connection can help serve as “a buffer to health problems”. 

This simply confirmed what I already knew – something needed to be done to help people get engaged and connected. This is why I am passionate about getting the word out about “chocolate connection experiences”. It is my hope to help more individuals who are experiencing loneliness and prevent them from experiencing physical, mental, and emotional health issues with something as simple as chocolate! 

I know that you have already ordered a CocoTerra chocolate maker.  Tell me what excites you about being one of the first to own a  tabletop chocolate maker?

The CocoTerra machine is the epitome of innovation within the chocolate industry. It makes the prospect of creating chocolate more feasible for a hobbyist like myself, as I don’t have to invest in or borrow all the equipment to make it. I will now have the ability to take the flavorful cacao beans I’ve obtained from farmers and make chocolate in my own kitchen. 

Since the CocoTerra app offers extensive chocolate-making settings, it will expand the range of flavor possibilities that I will have access to, and make it possible to offer truly one-of-a-kind chocolate that is specifically designed for any future tasting that I host.

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