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Manuata Martin, Tahitian Gold’s CEO and Founder, often jokes that he and his family have always had Tahiti and its vanilla in their veins. And it’s easy to understand why: Their family’s roots in this South Pacific island paradise trace back to the early 1760s.
Over the years, his family played an important role in Tahiti’s development. They were not only involved in creating the island’s first electrical and telecommunications networks, they were also prominent in the island’s beverage and distribution industries. And their influence continues in various forms to this day.
Manu still remembers when his mother first introduced him to vanilla’s magic. She explained how the world’s rarest and most sought-after vanilla beans were grown in Tahiti—and how vanilla was grown and cultivated. As she did, Manu was intrigued to learn the vanilla bean began as an orchid bloom and how it had to be hand-pollinated on the day it opened. He was fascinated that the flower and the green beans were odorless—until the sun heated the beans.
He still fondly remembers his mother’s love for finding innovative ways to use vanilla in her incredible dishes and beverages. This explains his passion for creating new innovative specialty vanilla products.
So, this is how he became attracted to vanilla’s magic—and how his passion for vanilla grew steadily over the years. And this also explains the value he placed on the Tahitian culture as he created his new business.
In the early 1990s, partly because of population shifts to the cities, Tahiti’s vanilla bean production was all but abandoned. Ironically, this ultimately resulted in Manu and his brother, Sacha, creating new vanilla businesses under the Tahitian Gold brand.
Initially, Sacha traveled to learn everything he could from the islands’ elders. As he did, he realized the importance of controlling the quality of his vanilla beans. To satisfy market demands, he knew he had to master the art of sun-curing and eventually growing vanilla himself.
To cure his vanilla beans, Sacha chose one of the family’s pollution-free private islands. Eventually, Sacha started his own Tahitian vanilla greenhouse plantations that are today the largest in French Polynesia.
Manu had moved to the United States to attend high school and college where he studied photography and film-making. This resulted in his ongoing passion for visual arts and music.
In 1994, at Sacha’s request, Manu agreed to help some Tahitian farmers import their vanilla products into the United States. In making this decision, Manu was determined to set the bar high. He decided he’d import only the highest quality vanilla beans from Tahiti and around the world. He’d demand that his new company focus on delivering quality, service, and value. He envisioned that his company would someday create amazing innovative specialty products that would celebrate and promote vanilla’s magic. And, with this, he launched his company, Tahitian Gold Co, Inc.
Soon, in its state-of-the-art facility in Los Angeles, Tahitian Gold created a remarkably innovative process for grinding its beans. This process captures, retains and enhances the finer qualities of fresh gourmet vanilla beans. These highly fragrant and intensely flavored ground vanilla bean products have earned the reputation of being a “best kept secret” amongst elite chefs and purists around the world.
On the one hand, our vision is the future. It is our destination. Everything we do is about reaching our destination. Our mission, on the other hand, is how we plan to get there… — Manuata Martin, President & CEO