Sourced in collaboration with Afro-Indigenous communities in Chocó, Colombia’s isolated and densely forested Pacific coastal region, this wild vanilla gorgeously defies expectations as both an ingredient and a supply chain narrative. While “everyday” vanilla planifolia pods tend to be small and slim, with sweet, creamy, and hyperbolic aromatics, this Colombian vanilla has a diversity of sizes and figures, with an immediately striking fragrant complexity that evokes spices such as anise and clove or delicate florals like jasmine and honeysuckle. When infused into a recipe, the flavors evoked are far more layered, piquant, and herbaceous than traditional vanilla, though the familiar essence cuts through enough for it to remain a worthy replacement.
At Regalis, our obsession with exceptional ingredients has kept rare vanilla on our radar for years. We have had the opportunity to work with producers from Mexico, Madagascar, and New Guinea, and we recently reconnected with Carole Prouteau, a French entrepreneur with a strong background in agriculture, based in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2020, Carole launched AIA Source & Trade, a startup with the broad but critical mission of facilitating smallholder farmers’ access to global markets while heightening supply chain traceability from producer to end consumer. Working on wild vanilla with two communities along Colombia’s western coast, Carole explains that she “created this company thinking that sometimes what producers need is only somebody to find the market that is open to reinterpreting the food supply chain, to supporting new supply chains to emerge,” going on to describe her role as “being a link between these communities that have very good products but can’t make a good match with actors in the market.” These are projects that we are truly proud to support, and ingredients we are lucky to share.
Bahia Solano, Colombia