Born in Santa Monica, CA and now living in South Orange County, Jeff Stern is an internationally recognized chocolate maker and foodie. He has lived and worked in Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Nicaragua and his travels and work have led him to another dozen different countries in Europe and Africa. His obsession with food didn’t start until his late teens, learning to cook on an expedition through the rockies with the National Outdoor Leadership school. But he didn’t truly pursue his interest for almost another 15 years.
After getting his BA at NYU in the 1990s and finishing a Master’s in Urban Planning at UT Austin, he set his sights on returning to Latin America. Living in Chile during high school, he had returned to travel the region visiting Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay and Costa Rica, and it had become his lifelong focus. He worked in foreign assistance with the US government for two years in Ecuador and two years in Nicaragua.
Abandoning his urban planning background, Jeff went on to attend the L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg Maryland, in 1999. He worked as a line cook in some of DC’s finest restaurants, ran his own personal chef and catering business, then decided to head into chocolate.
In 2007, Jeff and his family relocated to Quito, Ecuador. Jeff ran one of Quito’s first boutique chocolate businesses, where he also discovered the chocolate trade. He became an expert in sourcing and knowledge of cacao, which he parlayed into a bean to bar chocolate consulting business.
In 2014, Jeff and his family returned to the US. Jeff went to work for Chocxo, located in Irvine, as their chocolate operations manager and head chocolate maker. His foray into chocolate making won him several medals from the UK based Academy of Chocolate. These included best in category “best dark chocolate bean-to-bar under 80 percent” for the Camino Verde 72 Percent Single Origin, Guantupi 75 Percent Single Origin, and Tres Rios, limited edition.