Overseas Vietnamese old man dreams of making ‘Made in Vietnam’ chocolate
sonnguyen 30-07-2020, 11:56

A dream to repay homeland

Five years ago, Mr. Samy was 65 years old. All three children had no one to take over his father, so he decided to sell the company and collect all the money he had saved all his life to return to Vietnam to buy land and build houses.

“The day I took my mother to the plane to America, I saw her take one step and bow down and say goodbye to homeland. That image reminds me of my birthplace. Until the day she passed away, she still hoped I could do something to repay Vietnam“, he said. 

Overseas Vietnamese old man dreams of making ‘Made in Vietnam’ chocolate
Photo: kimmychocolatier.com

During one of his trips, Mr. Samy stumbled upon the farmer cutting off the fruit-laden cocoa trees. Strangely, he asked to know more and was replied that 10 years ago, Tien Giang province has supported cocoa seedlings. However, after nearly 3 years, when the harvest was started, they could not find a stable output. People had to cut them down to replace with other crops.

Mr. Nguyen Dung, a resident of Chau Thanh District, recalled: “In 2012, my family’s cocoa trees began to be harvested. Good trees, big fruits at that time but I was trapped because the price per kilogram of fresh fruit was only more than vnd 1,000 (usd 0,4 cent“.

Listening to stories of farmers, Mr. Samy pondered: “Why do Vietnamese people grow qualified cocoa trees but they have to buy chocolate imported from France, USA, Belgium … and accidentally turn it into luxurious goods that the poor have no chance to enjoy?”.

Mr. Bùi Durassamy. Photo: baodautu.vn

In the midst of wonders, he suddenly remembered to make chocolate when attending a chocolate making course at night since he was young. “I have interacted with machines so I wanted to find something different to experience. After the course, I knew how to make chocolate but just stopped at a limited level,” he said.

So as a predestined relationship, Mr. Samy believed that chocolate was the thing that would help him pay his debt to his motherland.

Difficulties in starting up the business

In Vietnam, there is no selling of machines to make chocolate, so Mr. Samy’s first job is to tinker with making machines to the best of his knowledge. Being a mechanical engineer, he immediately started sketching machines for shelling, grinding and grinding cocoa … After having 3D drawings, he went to local processing workers to get them to produce.

This step took him nearly 2 years because many workers refused to make strange details and not to meet his demand on mass production. “At that time, I had to live with workers, supervised and instructed them to make machines as I wanted,” he said.

Photo: phamsontung.com

In a factory of more than 200 m2 with nearly a dozen employees working, the scent covers the space, which comes from the chocolate crusher and other ingredients. The machine is responsible for mixing and grinding chocolate paste and other ingredients such as milk, cocoa butter together. “This is the stage determining the success of the finished chocolate. The minimum requirement is when put in mouth, pieces of chocolate have to melt without any debris. 

“The chocolate mixture is ground by the movement of ice cubes, driven by a rotating shaft. In order to create this machine, Mr. Samy took nearly a year to find the stone worker in Ninh Binh Province, who agreed to process. “Skilled stone craftsman they make very beautiful products, but few people can make the stone be compatible with the details of the machine”, he said.

Photo: phamsontung.com

However, when the ingredients are mixed in the first batch, the motor’s rotation speed is too fast resulting in chocolate being thrown out. Mr. Samy had to personally drill, hammer and chisel to adjust. 

Ms. Nguyen Thi My Dung, Mr. Samy’s neighbor, said: “There were times when he was hunching with the machine, I saw him holding a hammer with a very strong knock, mumbling “why, why” and then threw the hammer to the yard and shout. 

Photo: phamsontung.com

“Those times make me frustrated with searching for possible causes. But just for a moment, thinking of the chopped cocoa roots, I came back determined to fix it,” said the man who once owned the factory processing components for Boeing aircraft.

Ms. My Dung’s family used to grow about 50 cocoa trees in the garden and sold them to a few cocoa powder production companies or small confectionery facilities in the district. However, the price per kg of fresh cocoa is less than VND 2,000 (USD 1 cent).

Photo: phamsontung.com

From the day Mr. Samy opened his workshop, Ms. Dung has been instructed by him to ferment cocoa beans into qualified ones. This is a decisive stage, directly affecting the specific flavor and aroma of cocoa. She also started buying fresh cocoa from many people in the region to ferment, dry and then sell it to Mr. Samy at a higher price than the market. “He revived the cacao tree here,” Ms. Dung said.

Photo: phamsontung.com

The first batch of “made in Vietnam” chocolate

In early 2017, when machines were working smoothly with the knowledge from the lecture in class making chocolate more than 30 years ago, the first batch of chocolate was born. The first thing Mr. Samy did was to bring the chocolate bar that he had just made to give back to cocoa farmers. “I’ve never thought that one day I could eat a delicious chocolate made from my own cocoa trees,” Ms. Dung said.

Photo: kimmychocolatier.com

The first batch of chocolate was not really perfect, Mr. Samy listened to suggestions from many people. He also learned by himself, incorporated chocolate with green tea powder, strawberry powder or making chocolate filled with chocolate cores to give birth to many different types of products.

“Making chocolate is like making a dish, if it is not cooked well today, let’s continue to cook it tomorrow and try adding this and that,” Mr. Samy compared.

To thank his wife, Mr. Samy named her wife – Kimmy to the brand of “Made in Vietnam” chocolate. For one year recently, Mr. Samy suffered from a catastrophic stroke so he has difficulties in walking and no longer able to directly go to fairs and exhibitions nationwide to promote the product. He passed on his formula and experience to the factory workers.

The factory of Kimmy’s chocolate. Photo: phamsontung.com

Struggling with a walk in the garden, the salt-haired man felt weasel. Although he missed his wife and children in Canada, he had not met them for nearly a year. 

In addition to selling products in distribution channels, Mr. Samy also turned his workshop into a place for visiting of domestic and foreign tourists. “Foreign tourists visiting Vietnam will buy chocolate as a gift,” said Mr. Samy in a hopeful voice.