Shawn Askinosie was a criminal defense attorney in the city of Springfield, Missouri, and he was good at his job... some might’ve even said notoriously so. But he knew one thing. If he continued at the high-stress job, it was going to lead him to keel over someday.
He didn’t really have any hobbies or interests outside of the courtroom (besides taking his teenage daughter to see the Backstreet Boys). His was a case that he simply couldn’t crack. One day, driving under the bright blue Missouri sky, a thought struck him, as he says “dropping right into [his] head.” He needed to make chocolate.
This realization led to some grounds for hesitation. Shawn knew absolutely nothing about chocolate, beyond the fact that he loved eating it. But he was motivated by his newfound passion, quit his job and applied his lawyer-ly knack for research and analysis to chocolate. He buried himself in chocolate: where it comes from, its history, how it’s made and how to craft a unique chocolate offering. Within a few months, he found himself in the Amazon rainforest, trailing cocoa farmers to observe the techniques up close.
Back home, he found a countertop grinder and started making chocolate directly from the beans. Appealing to his wife Caron, they worked together to throw parties where they surreptitiously focus-group tested their initial experiments. It wasn’t long before their fervent passion led them to purchase a building for production along with a 6,000-pound granite melanguer (a big step up from his at-home chocolate grinder) from Europe... and this was only two years after he left the courtroom.
Those cocoa farmers he met early on in his quest became the central defining feature of Askinosie. Shawn has always been committed to sourcing the beans and building relationships with the growers, not only personally but financially as he set up a system to share Askinosie profits with them. They are equal parties in his eyes, treated with fairness, dignity, and respect and he’s built business relationships spanning four continents. Two of his sources include farms in Tanzania and the Philippines, where he has sponsored food programs that nourish 1,600 children per day.
And business practices aren’t the only thing that are incredible about Askinosie—their chocolates have earned three Good Food Awards, six silver awards from the Specialty Food Association, and seven International Chocolate Awards. A chocolate that satisfies your taste buds and your soul.
Our verdict? Criminally delicious.