While living in Guatemala, Chocotenango owner Ismael Neggaz “fell in love with chocolate.” Neggaz, who has been a pastry chef
since 1994, has traveled around the world working in restaurants. He has lived on four different continents and has worked at high-end restaurants in London, D.C. and Boston. But he always wanted to start his own business, Neggaz said.
He founded Chocotenango, an artisan chocolate business, in 2005. The brand became extremely popular in Guatemala quickly
after its opening, but Neggaz closed the store to move to D.C., since his wife was offered a job in the U.S. He worked in another restaurant for a few years before deciding that he wanted to restart his chocolate business. Ever since, Chocotenango has flourished, growing through online sales and farmers market appearances.
“I hated having a boss,” Neggaz said. “I really wanted to be my own.”
Chocotenango chocolate is made entirely from scratch with beans from a small organic cocoa farmer in the Dominican Republic.
Although Chocotenango is locally based, it often receives international recognition. Since its founding, the business has won 18 international chocolate awards, and last year, Neggaz’s chocolate won a silver award in the International Chocolate Awards competition.
“When I make chocolate, I make it good,” Neggaz said.