Primo Botanica

Primo Botanica Craft Chocolate is the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker in New York’s Capital Region. Oliver Holecek and Jay Holecek are cousins on opposite coasts. Jay became a certified natural chef in Berkeley, California at Bauman College. Working as a…

Primo Botanica

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Primo Botanica Craft Chocolate is the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker in New York’s Capital Region.
Oliver Holecek and Jay Holecek are cousins on opposite coasts. Jay became a certified natural chef in Berkeley, California at Bauman College. Working as a chef consultant for companies like Clif Bar, Artisana and Endorfin Chocolate, Jay has an immense amount of knowledge in the health food industry. After becoming involved with an eco-tourism project called Buenaventura in Costa Rica, Jay started his company, Chocolate Ambassador, being a consultant and chocolate maker for several chocolate companies in the Bay Area. Oliver grew up in a small rural town 30 minutes south of Albany called Dormansville. He and his family had a try at the homesteading life, raising chickens and selling eggs alongside an abundant vegetable garden. In 1996, his mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness that gave her about a year to live. Because of this, his mother had an impetus to show her family the world, traveling to over 10 countries in under 10 years. Living an active lifestyle and eating home-grown produce, his mother continued her battled against her supposed terminal illness to this day. Oliver’s experience living with his mother’s chronic illness inspired him to make significant lifestyle choices at an early age- avoiding junk foods and cooking with nutrient dense, therapeutic foods. With an upbringing of small-scale agriculture and travel, Oliver got his degree from Plattsburgh University in Anthropology to study more deeply the traditional diets and methods of agriculture in indigenous Central and South American cultures.
Inspired by years of apprenticing with his cousin and working as a community-kitchen manager, baker and prep-cook for several businesses in the NY, Oliver was inspired to try running his own business. Inspired by the deep significance of chocolate in various indigenous cultures he’d developed relationships with through study and travel, he decided chocolate was where he’d try his hand. With the help of Jay, who has been cultivating strong relationships with cacao farmers and exporters it was fairly easy to get Primo Botanica started. Oliver travelled to Costa Rica with a bag of medicinal chaga mushrooms that he planned to trade directly for a bag of cacao beans- with the assistance of Jay as his ambassador, it worked. Primo Botánica took flight that spring.
Their mission is to “transform small scale food-based businesses globally through direct-trade business relationships between producer/farmer-owned enterprises.” In effect they aim to create the highest quality, most delicious chocolate possible. Expanding upon their mission to transform communities, Primo Botánica works collaboratively with chocolate-makers and women-owned businesses in Mexico through Fundacíon En Vía.
Oliver chose the name ‘Primo’ which in Spanish means both “the best” and “cousin.” As a bean to bar chocolate company they source all of their beans from regenerative farming cooperatives in distinctly different bioregions. They are also the first chocolate maker to include wild-harvested medicinal ingredients, delivering potent therapeutic effects and an unparalleled botanical flavor experience to your taste buds. This follows their tenant: “let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” All of their products are vegan, made with source-identified direct-trade and fair-trade ingredients.

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