In Conversation with Hunted + Gathered

Harry Nissen from Hunted and Gathered - Stan Ray Journal

Harry Nissen and his brother Charlie have been making chocolate in their Cremorne factory since 2015. Born from a fascination with quality food production, the Nissens founded Hunted + Gathered after years of experimentation with various foods. With an emphasis on responsibly sourced beans, minimal ingredients - all bars have less than five, and most only three - and thoughtful collaborations with Pidapipo, Attica, and Four Pillars Gin, Hunted + Gathered has grown into a respected maker of artisanal chocolate. We recently paid a visit to the Hunted + Gathered factory and cafe concept to speak to Harry about his work.

What initially sparked your interest in chocolate?

I was always fascinated by the process of food production, particularly food made from scratch. I was first interested in fermenting and preserving veggies, making charcuterie and beer. Chocolate was just one of the things I was playing around with. My friends started to try what I was making and enjoyed it a lot, so it just ended up sticking.

Were you into food growing up?

Not really. I was quite a picky eater growing up. I only started to be interested in food when I started watching the food channel on TV at 14. The more I learnt about cooking and food, the more interest I had in trying new food.

How did the idea for Hunted + Gathered come about?

Hunted + Gathered came about because my brother and I couldn't find a product that had responsibly sourced ingredients and that tasted how we wanted it to. At this time, chocolate available in the market had fillers, emulsifiers or additives that are unnecessary for production. We wanted to create a product with minimal ingredients and more transparency in regard to the sourcing and manufacturing process. As a base, each Hunted + Gathered bar contains just three ingredients: cacao beans, coconut sugar and cacao butter.

How do you find working with a sibling?

Working with my brother definitely has its advantages and disadvantages but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages the majority of the time.

Making Chocolate at Hunted and Gathered - Stan Ray Journal

What is your process for sourcing the best cacao beans?

Our ingredients are sourced from a number of different locations. We receive samples from a bunch of different places, which we then make into chocolate. We play around with how we process the beans to see if we think their flavour profiles are unique or interesting to us.

Where do you currently source your beans from?

We currently source our beans from Zorzal cacao in Dominican Republic, Camino verde in Ecuador, Maya mountain cacao in Belize, Kokoa Kamili in Tanzania, Akesson estate in Madagascar and Cacao Tales in Peru.

From bean to bar, how long does the whole process usually take?
Once we have the beans in the factory and we begin to process them, it takes around 4-5 days.

Harry Nissen of Hunted and Gathered - Stan Ray Journal
Hunted + Gathered - Stan Ray Journal

Hunted + Gathered is known for its collaborations. Tell us about some of your partnerships with local businesses.

Four Pillars have been really great to work with. In the chocolate we make with Four Pillars we use a byproduct from their gin production. To make these bars we get their spent botanicals and oranges and dehydrate them before we grind it into our chocolate. The resulting chocolate tastes like it has been infused with gin but has 0% alcohol.

Our work with Attica is one of our more recent partnerships. I have personally always wanted to work with Ben Shewry and the team at Attica, I really respect their ethos and way they go about running the restaurant. We were excited when they approached us to make a white chocolate for them. White chocolate isn’t something that we usually produce, so it was great being able to make a product custom tailored to their needs.

Pidapipo is also a long term partner of ours. We supply them chocolate to use in their gelato, and for the past few years we have teamed up to make a different easter product each year. This year we made an ice cream sandwich based on an Italian Easter cake called Colombia di Pasqua, which was super delicious.

Why did you decide to open your factory doors to the public?

When we moved into the space it was always our intention to open up the space to the public. We wanted the public to be able to come in and see the inner workings of the brand. It was also important for us to have a place where customers can come sample the range of different chocolates and get a better understand of what Hunted + Gathered is about.

Hunted + Gathered Chocolate Store - Stan Ray Journal
Hunted + Gathered Dominican Republic Chocolate Bar - Stan Ray Journal

I can imagine it would be hard to pick, but what’s your favourite Hunted + Gathered chocolate bar of all time?

I would have to say the Valentine's Day bar from this year. I really like the contrast of the bright and acidic freeze dried cherries paired with the dark chocolate and slow roasted hazelnuts.

What’s next for Hunted + Gathered?
We want to continue expanding our retail and food service offering, exploring new cacao origins and flavoured inclusions. We would also like to offer tours of our factory to the public. This would provide a more interactive experience for customers and allow them to have an in depth tasting of the full bean to bar process that happens under our roof.

Harry From Hunted + Gathered

Harry was also kind enough to give us the recipe for his famous Chocolate Tart, which is always on rotation at the cafe, along with a selection of coffee, baked treats and sandwiches.

Hunted + Gathered, 68 Gwynne St Cremorne VIC 3121. @huntedandgathered

Harry wears a custom Shop Jacket in White PFD. View our collection of Shop Jackets here.

Photos by Timothy Hillier.

InterviewPeter Bain