After 18 years photographing for the National Geographic, writer and editor Taylor Kennedy turned his creative hands to chocolate, founding Sirene.

To Taylor, the name ‘Sirene’ is all about knowledge – the Siren’s were characters in Homer’s Odyssey who offered humans the seduction of their mind so they could learn more about the world. Recently Dr. Matthew Ward, a Fellow in Classics at Cambridge University, pointed out the inherent ambiguity of the Sirens to Taylor: depending on who you read and how you personally interpret them, the Sirens either offer help for passing sailors or are dangerous. Similarly, just as chocolate can be extremely healthy, overconsumption can cause problems – so how you personally interact with it defines what chocolate does for your body. Despite being at a sprightly 2,800 years old, the Odyssey shows us a fundamental part of humanity – a curiosity to learn more about the world we all live in. And this is what Sirene is all about.

Sirene hand crafts its chocolate in small batches in a custom-built chocolate workshop in Victoria, Canada. Sirene carefully and directly sources its beans from select farms, nurturing each beautiful bean to its full chocolaty potential. Sirene aims to coax out the complexity and nuanced range of natural flavours inherent to each bean origin, showing casing it as a beautifully crafted bar of chocolate.

We had the pleasure of speaking to Taylor, to ask a few questions about how he found himself in the world of small-batch chocolate…

What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?

My academic background are degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology, and Economics. After aiming for a career in medicine, at graduation I made an abrupt turn into photography. After 18 wonderful years working with National Geographic (where I still have active editing and photographic contracts), I decided to change a hobby of mine into a business. Making chocolate had been a casual and interesting hobby when I noticed that the bean to bar revolution was under way, and that rather than staying a hobby it could evolve into a viable business. Sirene was launched and I have loved the change in focus, while still maintaining connections to the photographic world.

What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?

I want to show the world the incredible diversity of flavours that beans from different origins can provide. It is for this reason that my packages have two separate origins in them; to provide a built in comparison for those unfamiliar with craft chocolate, and to provide two origins to those who are.

When did you start your company – and with whom? How many are there of you?

I started selling bars in stores in January of 2014, and though I started the company on my own I now have a part time helper.

What is your favourite food? Wine? Other chocolate makers?

I enjoy most foods, though lean towards a wonderful Indian meal or a finely produced and presented French meal. When not enjoying chocolate, I am an avid whisky drinker. I do love fine scotch, am partial to rye but find bourbon a bit sweet. As for other chocolate makers, there are some really good ones that I admire for a variety of reasons. Dick Taylor is making incredible strides in small scale chocolate manufacturing processes, Taza sets the bar for sourcing and working with cocoa farmers that we all should strive to emulate and Askinosie does a magnificent job of connecting the makers and the farmers and then bringing that awareness and story to the end customer.

Sirene In The Chocolate Library