Dan W. Pearson is an Investment Banker and Chief Executive Officer of Marañón Chocolate. He and his business partner Brian Horsley began doing business in Peru in 2002. They were attracted to the growth potential of mining the vast reserves of gold, silver, copper, zinc, and lead in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Their corporation began supplying spare parts for heavy earth moving equipment located at mining locations.
This led to opportunities supplying these remote mining facilities with fresh fruits and vegetables. While sourcing bananas in the jungle, they came upon cacao trees with 40% white beans.
Curious about the genetics of the 40% white beans, Dan sent leaf samples to the USDA/Agricultural Research Center near Washington DC. “When Dr. Meinhardt called with the DNA results and said ‘Dan are you sitting down?’ I knew we had found something special.”
What they found was Pure Nacional, once the most prized cocoa beans in the world, before they were thought to have become extinct after being struck by disease in 1916 in Ecuador. Finding these very rare cacao beans was the beginning of their journey into the world of chocolate.
(Dan Pearson tells the story of the discovery of Pure Nacional, Fortunato No. 4 at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) during the launch of this thought to be extinct chocolate.)