“It would be the easiest thing to quit. But we have a dream and this is a part of who we are. We think people should be aware that you can treat yourself in a better way.”
One of the things about Europe is that they have very high standards when it comes to food. In fact, good food is the norm. You don’t really see that food culture here in the U.S.”
Despite his warm and quiet demeanor, Johan’s passion for Belgian cuisine is difficult to miss. As the founder of MOJO, Johan shows that dessert can abide by the highest standards and still be delicious without the use of artificial ingredients.
He was surprised when he came across what passed as “Belgian chocolate mousse.”
I knew I was making something completely different from everybody else. It broke my heart that people were making Belgian chocolate mousse even though it was far from it. It was frustrating as a chef because us Belgians have great standards.”
He aims to change that by introducing MOJO: a light, creamy dessert that melts in your mouth. Made with real ingredients, it is the kind of dessert that would make you smile and leave you searching for more after your last spoonful. At the moment, they have two flavors: dark chocolate and white chocolate.
Johan grew up in his grandfather’s kitchen in Antwerp where he learned the ins and outs of cooking. At the age of eight, he made his first batch of chocolate mousse. These invaluable moments in the kitchen molded Johan into the kind of chef that he is today, making the mousse that he loves as his way to honor his grandfather’s memory.
There was a lot of support for Johan to start the business. As the chef for the Belgian ambassador, he would prepare his signature chocolate mousse during official dinners where it became a huge hit to the ambassador and his guests. He would also make it for birthday parties and give it as gifts to friends.
People keep telling me that I should sell it.”
Even his partner and his wife, Jaqueline, has her own story about Johan and his popular mousse:
We had a little picnic in Central Park for my birthday. We were just seeing each other at that time and Johan made a batch of mousse. That was very special for me because he made it for everybody. Needless to say, everyone was blown away by it.”
As a growing business, MOJO is confronted with a number of challenges. When it had a rebranding back in October 2017, Johan and his team knew they had to give their product a face that would represent his vision.
The most difficult part was the name. It took us three months to come up with it. There were a lot of tweaks that had to be done, but in the end we were happy with the overall design. Also, as a small business, we are confronted with the everyday challenge of distribution and keeping our shelf space so people can get to know us.”
Despite all of this, Johan and Jaqueline refuse to give up.
We could be using preservatives and adding artificial ingredients, but we refuse to compromise. It is our soul—making small batches, using real ingredients. We would rather stay true to who we are.”