Dana Ashkar is revolutionizing chocolate through her company, CAHO, which works to combine rich, impressive flavors into a healthier type of chocolate. Ashkar is truly reshaping the chocolate industry, one delicious creation at a time. CAHO is all about treating yourself without feeling guilty. Below is an interview about what CAHO is and what we can expect from Ashkar in the future.
When and how did your passion for chocolate develop?
I think the entire world shares a passion and love for chocolate with me! But CAHO, our healthy, natural chocolate brand, developed from what I saw as a family necessity that has been suffering from diabetes, and has lost a family member to this disease.
How would you describe CAHO – what is the brand, mission statement, or vision for it?
I always refer to CAHO as the good natural chocolate. Our mission is to make healthy accessible. Our vision for CAHO is to ensure the future availability and accessibility of healthy offerings and lead the movement of everything “natural”, where mind, body and spirit are in harmony.
We aim to provide delicious, decadent chocolate without the ill effects on our health and our planet.
How is CAHO reshaping the chocolate industry, and the healthy food industry?
We are aware of the growing numbers of consumers who are worried about obesity, diabetes and heart disease, who are turning to snacks with less sugar and fat. They are holding back on their desire to indulge in buying chocolate, only making occasional purchases. So we decided to redefine chocolate!
All our chocolates are handcrafted in small batches, using only the finest quality, raw materials. These materials are meticulously sourced without all the additives, artificial preservatives and nasty bits we unfortunately often see in other mass-produced brands.
We focus on world-class sustainable ingredients and incredible natural flavours for our chocolate, by infusing our products with wellness-promoting ingredients such as high-quality cocoa and freeze-dried fruits. Some of our products are sugar and dairy-free, meaning they are not only healthier, but also suitable for diabetics, vegans, and those with food intolerances.
We have also taken steps to provide an intuitive online store, (www.cahochocolate.com) where you can order from our range in minutes and have your chocolates hand-delivered the same day in Dubai, or within a few days to Sharjah or Abu Dhabi. Our on-line offering has shaken up the local luxury confectionary sector, and we are proud to be disruptive.
Truly, with CAHO, there’s no better time to indulge, without guilt!
What are some of the goals behind CAHO?
Our goal is to maintain a great deal of attention to the combination and richness of our flavours; the origins of our cacao beans, on the initiatives our brand supports, and experiences we create for our consumers. What drives us every day is seeing the sheer delight on people’s faces when they try our chocolate and discover that something so delicious and seemingly indulgent is natural, healthy, good for them and good for the planet too!
What is your favorite healthy chocolate that you have developed? And what is the most popular?
My personal favorite is the most recent flavour combination: vegan raspberry chili, while our bestseller is the vegan coconut. There is certainly no loss of flavour simply because the chocolate is vegan. All that really means is it contains no dairy, so is naturally lower fat and healthier, yet tastes amazing. All our flavours are worth tasting, and we invite everyone to visit our special store in Dubai Silicon Oasis for a tasting session. We are sure you’ll find a favourite!
What can we expect next from CAHO?
Through CAHO, we plan to carry on building awareness of healthy living and expand our product line of vegan, nutritional and ethical foods beyond chocolates to healthy meal options. My biggest goal is to have a chain of CAHO-branded wellness retreats – places where people can restart and re-boost their lives.
How has your background in creative advertising and art direction helped CAHO grow?
I think my creative background is not limited to a university degree or a professional career, rather it has developed a habit and a way of thinking in me. Creativity is my daily practice that has trained me to notice possibilities and opportunities everywhere.
It has surely set CAHO apart from other chocolatiers in the UAE market, through our innovation of creating a better product, and proving that all of the “junk” in many of other chocolate brands simply does not need to be there in the first place.