Dessert Professional magazine proudly presents the Top 10 Chocolatiers in America for 2013.
Dessert Professional magazine is proud to announce the recipients of our annual Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America awards. The fine chocolate industry here continues to evolve, and the chocolatiers in North America are among the finest in the world. Our selection of the Top Ten Chocolatiers honors North American-based chocolatiers whose craft is distinctive and has elevated the chocolate industry.
This year’s list includes chocolate artists with diverse backgrounds. Some are former pastry chefs, while others began as chocolatiers. Some are self-taught, while others have been classically trained. Following is a short profile of each of our talented 2013 Top Ten Chocolatiers.
- Thierry Atlan
- Robin Autorino
- Larry Burdick
- Tim Gearhart
- Bryan Graham
- John Kraus
- Francisco Migoya
- Christophe Morel
- Joan Coukos Todd
- Karen Urbanek
Sugar and Plumm
Owner: Lamia Jacobs
377 Amsterdam Avenue, NY, NY 10024
Chocolate philosophy: As a Best Craftsman of France (MOF), my philosophy regarding chocolate is to always make the highest quality, to make people happy, to innovate, and to teach younger chocolate makers my know-how.
Inspiration: 30 years ago, I remember seeing my professor working with chocolate and I realized at that moment I wanted to become a chocolatier.
How long has your shop been in business? A year and a half, but I have been working in many companies internationally for many years.
Business profile: We make chocolate, macarons, pastries, and ice cream. Our packaging is original, new and innovative. Branding is important to us. Our décor is all related to sweets! Fun and whimsical. Our location is great because it is on the Upper West Side, a short walk to the museums, and very family oriented. Our clientele are mostly families, couples and friends who want to enjoy each other’s company.
Chocolate varieties:We have 18 chocolate bonbons, five different types of candy bars, eight flavors of marshmallows, and 30 different varieties of chocolate specialties (such as sculptures, tablets). Every season, we create new and fun items related to the season, flavors as well as eye appeal.
Chocolate brands: We work with Cacao Barry, Valrhona, and Chocolaterie de L’opera as well as Felchin chocolate.
Signature chocolate: Salted Caramel. We are working on a new and innovative caramel with a twist. Stay tuned for more!
Most unique piece: The Geisha piece I made during the Best Crafstman of France (MOF) competition. It took me 150 hours of work! It was by far the most unique piece I have ever made.
Personal favorite: The Fresh Mint bonbon. It is all-natural and extremely delicious!!
What it’s like working in the U.S.: I enjoy being in the United States because it gives me the opportunity to share my love and passion for chocolate. I love being able to create new flavor profiles to appeal to the American palate.
Chocolates by Thierry Atlan.
Owner: Robin Autorino
600 S. Airport Rd., Bldg B Ste. D, Longmont, CO 80503
720-204-8003 • www.robinchocolates.com
Chocolate philosophy: I aim for big, bold flavors. I don’t like chocolates that have too many different things going on. I want to recognize the flavor of the chocolate I just tasted and I want my customers to be able to do the same. All of the ingredients work as a team. I will often use different forms of a single ingredient in order to build layers of flavor. Our Raspberry Heart is an example of this. It is a burst of raspberry that is multi-dimensional. This results in a deeper, fuller raspberry flavor. If the filling is a ganache, then I marry the flavor with the right chocolate or blend of chocolates. This is another opportunity to create complexity and depth of flavor.
Inspiration: After 14 years in the Navy and a decade working for computer and internet companies, I had yet to find work that I was passionate about. I quit my job and went to culinary school with the intention of becoming a caterer or personal chef. During an internship at a small patisserie in France, I discovered how beautiful, delicate and delicious pastries and desserts could be. When I returned home I worked in the pastry kitchens of a number of historic restaurants and hotels in Boulder and Denver. In my spare time I started experimenting with molded chocolates, which I gave to friends. One of those friends gave my chocolates to a friend of hers who owns a floral shop. The florist called me and asked if I could supply them with boxed chocolates for their customers for Valentine’s Day. With only four molded chocolates developed, I started my company, found kitchen space and got to work.
My mother has been an inspiration. She is a five-time Hawaiian Ironman triathlete. She won all five of those races, breaking the record in the last one, at the age of 70. She was inducted into the Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2011, and is the only amateur triathlete to have been inducted. For every win there were thousands of hours of training and preparation. I approach my chocolate work with the same dedication and desire to be the very best that I can be.
Years before I went to culinary school, my son inspired me to do the first candy making that I had ever done. I was hosting a Christmas dinner for 20 sailors while I was stationed in Spain, all of whom were single parents like I was, and their kids. My son Nikolas wanted to help. I pulled out some pretzels and melted some chocolate chips and had him make chocolate covered pretzels for the guests. That started an annual tradition that eventually led to caramels and hand-rolled truffles.
I am also inspired by the chocolate itself. I was allergic to chocolate as a child so I avoided it most of my life. It was during my internship in France that I was working with chocolate and expected to taste everything I was making. I had the choice of either having an allergic reaction or possibly insulting a French pastry chef by not tasting what I was making. I chose the reaction over the insult and tasted the chocolate. Nothing happened. As I tasted more and more chocolate I continued to be fine. In the process I fell in love with an ingredient that I had avoided my whole life until then. Even more than the taste, I love to work with chocolate as an ingredient.
How long has your shop been in business? The business was started just before Valentine’s Day in 2008. We provided chocolates to resellers and also sold them through our website. We opened our retail shop in October 2011.
Business profile: In addition to the molded and enrobed chocolates, we make various confections. For example, we have something called Chocolate Peanut Shale, which is a soft and flakey brittle that is striped with chocolate. It is very popular. We also make pastries. These are primarily small items that are intended for a single serving or to be shared by two people. Our confections and pastries get the same attention to detail and quality as our chocolates. We carry a small number of vegan chocolates and gluten-free pastries. We don’t compromise on these. If we can’t make a dairy or gluten-free item that is as good or better than the a very good version of that item with dairy or gluten, then we won’t make it. We have an open kitchen that allows our customers to watch us at work. It is not unusual for me to come out front to talk with customers and answer their questions. We offer free samples every day.
Chocolate varieties: At any one time we have around 35 varieties of molded or enrobed chocolates. Most of these are available throughout the year with the rest available for the given holiday or season. Sometimes a chocolate will be retired to make way for something new. Other times I will reimagine a chocolate and make it new again.
Chocolate brand: We use Valrhona in all of our ganaches and as most of our couvertures. We also use Luker and Cocoa Barry for a small number of couvertures. We use about 15 different varieties of Valrhona and a smaller variety of Luker and Cocoa Barry.
Signature chocolate: Our Chocolate Caramel Fleur de Sel. Customers get to pick what chocolates go into each box and it is rare that any box gets put together without at least one of these. There are also customers that will build a box of nothing but this flavor.
Most unique piece: Our Rosemary Caramel molded chocolate. A local magazine has a series of articles where they ask a local chef to create a dish around some ingredient that the chef doesn’t normally use in their cuisine. The chef has 24 hours to produce the dish. Given that our chocolates can take up to three days to make, they gave me 48 hours. My ingredient was rosemary. I really do not like rosemary. Most of my 48 hours had to be used to produce a chocolate leaving very little time to come up with ideas. I made a bunch of different chocolates and the one we settled on was Rosemary Caramel, which we added to our collection and customers love to this day. It is the only thing with rosemary that I will eat.
Personal favorite: My first four chocolates (Raspberry Heart, Chocolate Caramel Fleur de Sel, Orange Spice Caramel and Espresso) remain my favorites. Each has been reinvented many times since I provided them to that first customer back in 2008, and each remains among our most popular.
Favorite quotes: I have two that pertain to every aspect of my life — “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”– Steve Jobs
Chocolates by Robin Autorino.
L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates
Locations in Boston and Cambridge, MA; New York, NY; and Walpole, NH
1-800-229-2419 • www.burdickchocolate.com
Chocolate philosophy: Quality chocolate begins with quality ingredients. The best beans, freshest ingredients, i.e., butter, cream, spices, eggs. Then making bonbons in small batches which allows customers to enjoy chocolate at its freshest.
Inspiration: While working in Switzerland in the early ‘80’s I saw how the Swiss made their bonbons, which in the States was never done – they made small batches on a daily basis, similar to pastry. In the States we made large quantities using preservatives. I knew this concept would go over well in the States. At the time there was a food movement that would appreciate artisanal chocolate making. I also realized that this type of chocolate making would have low start-up costs. Together I was able to come back to NYC and become a pioneer as a chocolatier.
How long has your shop been in business? L.A. Burdick Chocolate started in The Red Hook section of Brooklyn in 1987. We started as a wholesale company selling to the best restaurants, hotels and caterers. By 1990, there were so many personal requests for chocolate that we set up a mail order division. We started shipping bonbons all over the country. Our first café was started in our home town of Walpole NH in 1994. We now have four café/chocolate shops, including one in the Flatiron section of Manhattan.
Business profile: All of our stores have a similar feel, a lot of lightly stained wood, glass shelving, interesting light fixtures and a European feeling. People can sit and enjoy a hot chocolate and pastry while reading or talking with a friend. We also sell the bonbons in a variety of interesting packaging. Our clientele is varied – because our most popular shop is near Harvard University we have a young, college student following, in NYC we are near the high-tech area so we have a lot of “techies”. But, in addition we have a mature following, as well. People who have been buying our chocolates via mail order tend to be older but they love to stop in whenever they are near one of our shops. In Walpole, NH we are a destination stop for skiers, leaf-peepers, antique shoppers and just lovers of chocolate! We also have a restaurant in Walpole which is always full! We serve wonderful French-inspired food. Because Paula comes from the garment industry (she attended F.I.T.) we pride ourselves in the packaging. Since the beginning we have been using wood boxes, seal with gold wax and tied with beautiful ribbons. This has become one of our trademarks. We love that the wood of the boxes ties in the décor of our cafes.
Chocolate varieties: We traditionally have 12-15 varieties of bonbons, but because we are an artisanal company this can change at any time, depending on the chef and what he is feeling. Of the 15 varieties, 10 are dark chocolate, three are milk chocolate and two are white chocolate. We have a selection of chocolate bars – seven single sources, three health bars and our classic dark, milk and white. So you see our focus is primarily dark. Holidays are very important at Burdick’s; we have many seasonal selections: Snowmen at Christmas, Turkeys at Thanksgiving, Bunnies and eggs at Easter, dipped fruit for Passover, and a Chinese-spiced selection for the Lunar New Year.
Chocolate brand: In the past we used mostly Valrhona, but in recent years we have been building a cocoa processing plant in Grenada. We love the Grenadian cocoa beans and so we have gone into business with the farmers of Grenada to produce our own chocolate. It is called “Jouvay” which is a carnival term which means ‘beginning of a new dawn’. So now most of the chocolate we use is our own from Grenada.
Signature chocolate: The chocolate mouse is probably our signature. It is hand-piped with almond ears and a silk tail. We make them in three flavors: dark with a freshly squeezed orange ganache, milk with a mocha ganache and white with a dark chocolate and cinnamon interior. I brought this idea back from Switzerland, where the excess ganache was reworked into confections for young children. I decided to create them using fresh ingredients, colorful tails, and a new tradition was born.
Most unique piece: Pavé Glacé is a melt-in your-mouth confection of ground hazelnuts and dark chocolate deliciously accented with cognac and a touch of saffron. Its shape was inspired by the paving stones in old Swiss towns. Fifteen of these decadent cubes are packed in a beautiful tasseled pull-drawer box. Only a few towns in Switzerland make these and we make and ship them around the country!
Personal favorite: My personal favorite would be our collection of single source bars. We have seven of them and I eat many a day! It varies day to day as to which one is my favorite, but overall the Grenadian bar remains consistently the top choice. I love the taste of chocolate and only want the real taste of chocolate with the earthiness to come through.
Favorite quote: From my 26 years of experience in the chocolate business, I know that when people taste true chocolate, without the excess use of sugar and other additives, they recognize the taste, and that is why I love this quote: “Bon Goût Ne Peut Mentir,” which translates to “Good taste cannot lie.”
Chocolates by Larry Burdick.
Gearharts Fine Chocolates
Owners: Tim Gearhart and Bill Hamilton
416 West Main St. Unit C, Charlottesville, VA 22903
434-972-9100 • www.gearhartschocolates.com
Chocolate philosophy: Our goal from the beginning has been a simple one – combine classical techniques with a modern palate. We begin with sourcing the best ingredients we can find, local cream and butter and our own signature Valrhona blend. These are the cornerstones of the shop’s identity and what sets us apart. We have always tried to put our own stamp on our products in an ever changing and competitive market.
Inspiration: The road to this point was not as clear to me 30 years ago when I started in the food business. What we now consider the artisan chocolate shop did not really exist. But luckily in the 80’s and 90’s, the industry started a shift. This shift paired with my food and military background became a perfect storm for an artisan chocolate shop. Before studying pastry at The Culinary Institute of America in the early 90’s and working as a pastry chef, I had also been a cook in the Marines in the late 80’s. This really set the wheels in motion. I quickly learned about attention to detail and working in a quick and repetitive environment. This was an important part of the puzzle for me. But that is not all it took, I believe that it is imperative to love what you do. At the end of the day chocolate is still a craft and your level of enthusiasm will come through for the good or bad. We are extremely lucky every day we get to do this job and I do not forget it.
How long has your shop been in business? Since November 2001
Business profile: We have shops in both Charlottesville and Richmond. Gearhart’s opened in Charlottesville with Richmond following behind 7 years later. It is a unique city with a very vibrant food scene, which was vital to our start. All our production is still in Charlottesville and we are lucky to have loyal customer bases that truly value “local” and “artisan”.
Chocolate varieties: We offer a signature line of 16 chocolates, 6 types of hand-molded bars, toffee, caramels and other confections. We do offer many seasonal items as well, from a Double Chocolate and Stout Brownie for Father’s Day to Chocolate Caramel Apples in October.
Chocolate brands: We use our own custom blend of Valrhona, El Rey and Callebaut.
Signature chocolate: Our Maya, an ancho chili-laced, cinnamon and orange hand rolled truffle.
Most unique piece: A few months ago we launched an important project to us called “Peanut Butter Pups”. They are hand-piped, whimsical “puppies” made with local Virginia peanut butter and toasted almonds for ears. We donate 5% of ALL sales to a great local charity outside of Washington DC called Companions for Heroes. They match shelter animals as comfort pets with veterans with PTSD. This was a natural fit. They do important work and I served in the first Gulf War, so veterans affairs are of a concern to me.
Personal favorite: I am a little partial to our Malted Milk Hazelnut. There is something very nostalgic to me about malted milk paired with chocolate.
Best advice: No matter your chosen career, surround yourself with the best in the business. Anyone that has been in business for any extended amount of time knows that people are what separates you from the pack. We have been very lucky with our dedicated team and I truly feel like we are doing the best work we have ever done.
Chocolates by Tim Gearhart.
3091 Rte. 28, Shokan, NY 12481
845-657-6717 • www.TasteFruition.com
Chocolate philosophy: Ingredients. Technique. Balance.
Ingredients: Without great ingredients, there is no way to create great tasting chocolate and confections. We go to great lengths to find the best quality cocoa beans from which we craft all of our chocolate, sometimes travelling to cocoa producing regions to secure our most important raw ingredient. I also have an intense love for the bounty that our home, New York’s Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, produces. We collaborate with fruit growers, dairy farmers, bakers, distillers, and apiaries to source some of the best quality, and responsibly produced ingredients for our confections.
Technique: We approach our bean to bar chocolate making techniques with the singular goal that we can always make something better. The process is constantly evolving as we implement both traditional and modernist techniques in the unending pursuit of transforming cocoa beans into finished chocolate with the best possible flavor and texture.
Balance: It’s important to create balance between all of the components in a piece of chocolate. We develop our confections always remembering that chocolate should be fun and taste great. We approach some of our chocolates with the hope of triggering memories of something you enjoyed while growing up. With others, we try to surprise you with new flavor and texture combinations that you haven’t experienced before.
Inspiration: Growing up in a small town in upstate New York, I would spend weekends and summers at my grandmother’s farm, picking berries and apples, learning to make bread, pies, and jams. There was always a bowl of chocolates on the counter from which I enjoyed more than my fair share. These experiences sowed the seed for my pursuit of a career in the pastry world.
Training: I was a baker and pastry chef for nine years before I enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. I was chasing a girl (the future Mrs. Fruition), which led me to an externship in NYC with Jacques Torres. It was when I returned to the CIA and worked with Peter Greweling that I solidified my path: One day I would open my own chocolate shop. Being a bit of a control freak, I knew that I wanted to start a confectionery business in which as many of our ingredients would be produced in-house, including the chocolate itself. I wanted to have a hand in every step of the process, so I set out to learn everything I could about crafting chocolate from bean to bar, and elaborating that chocolate into confections.
How long has your shop been in business? The planning, scheming, experimentation and product development for what would ultimately become Fruition started in 2008. After a few years of refining, we began selling online and wholesale in the summer of 2011, and opened our retail factory store in the autumn of the same year. So, officially, we’ve been in business just over two years.
Business profile: Our workshop and retail store is in Shokan, NY, a miniscule town in the foothills of the Catskill mountains, 90 miles north of New York City. The workshop is very open, allowing our customers to see many of the processes as we roast cocoa beans, then, winnow, refine, conche and temper the finished chocolate into bars and confections. Fitting with our location, our store has a rustic yet refined feel, utilizing reclaimed wood and hand-hammered metal for many of the fixtures.
Being in such a rural area, we originally intended to be solely an online and wholesale business, but decided to open as a retail store on weekends just to see what would happen. We quickly developed a loyal local following and became a destination for people visiting the beautiful Catskill Mountains.
Our permanent and seasonal products are available in our workshop, via our online store, and in specialty markets, restaurants and hotels across the country. The colors and patterns on our packaging and our logo evoke ripening cocoa pods and are a consistent theme throughout all products. Our packaging is made from recycled or reusable materials, including metal tins, glass jars, and paper.
Chocolate varieties: Our core product line consists of ten origin bars ranging from our Toasted White Chocolate to a 100% Dark, with several gradations in percentage, origin, and flavor inclusions in between. Often we introduce limited release bars of unique origins and flavors that are only available for a short period. We source our cocoa beans from farms and cooperatives in the Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador, and Belize. We make our own white chocolate, specialty flavored couvertures and giandujas.
We also produce a line of pan-coated nuts, berries and cacao nibs, as well as seasonal confections that showcase many locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Some of my favorites are our Jalapeño Dusted Chocolate Covered Corn Nuts, and our Olive Oil Fried Marcona Almonds with Rosemary Scented Dark Chocolate.
Chocolate brand: Fruition!
Signature chocolate: The chocolate bar that we’re best known for at the moment is our Rustic Crunch. It’s a 70% coarse stone-ground dark chocolate with Demerara sugar crystals, vanilla bean, and cinnamon. The bar is a flashback to what chocolate could have been like before modern processing techniques were developed.
Most unique piece: At the moment it’s our Caramel Corn Bar. This is one of our limited release bars using our Toasted White Chocolate, freeze-dried corn kernels, brown butter, and sea salt. The toasted white is creamy, not too sweet and is full of caramel and dulce de leche flavor, which works well with the sweet corn and salt.
Personal favorite: The one that that I always go back to is our Brown Butter Bourbon Caramel. It started as a limited release, but became so popular that we decided to keep it on the menu permanently. It’s a 66% dark chocolate shell filled with a fluid salted caramel made using a locally distilled bourbon from our friends at Tuthilltown Spirits.
Chocolates by Bryan Graham.
Owner: John Kraus
Chocolatier: Joshua Werner
4552 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55419
612-354-3257 • www.Patisserie46.com
Questions answered by John Kraus with input from Joshua Werner
Chocolate philosophy: Keep it simple and clean. We want the customer to know what they are tasting. The chocolate is the highlight. We want the finish to be chocolate, not Szechuan pepper, for example. The flavor should be strong enough to leave no doubt, but balanced enough to have a clean chocolate finish.
Inspiration: Chocolatier Jim Graham
Business profile: Our store is in a neighborhood surrounded by lakes and homes. The clientele reflect all walks of life and age. We are determined to provide our products to anyone that comes in the door and have evolved into a meeting hall of sorts as well. Our products range from breakfast pastries and breads to ice cream and sorbet, petits geateaux and confections such as Caramels, Nougat, Guimauve and Pate de Fruit. The Décor is warm and simple, many windows, family style seating and large arm chairs as well as café style tables and plenty of outdoor seating for our short summer months. Our packaging reflects our brand brown, orange and clean with just our logo.
Chocolate varieties: We offer six seasonal bonbons, two bouchee, four bars, mendiants, and Rocherand enrobed citrus peel. We change the line with the seasons, four times a year.
Chocolate brands: We use specific chocolates for a desired result and that allows us to use a variety of brands such as Cocoa Barry, Guittard, Valhrona and Felchlin throughout the production.
Signature chocolate: Bourbon Ganache with Coffee Pecan Praline
Most unique piece: Lemongrass and Peppermint
Personal favorite: Hazelnut Praline with Feulletine & Fleur de Sel and the Lemongrass & Peppermint – it’s a tie. The Hazelnut Praline is simple and robust – caramelized hazelnuts, a touch of salt and the crispness of the feulletine. The Lemongrass & Peppermint has a flavor so unique and interesting it really becomes a sensory experience.
Personal quote: “Measure Twice, Cut Once.”
Chocolates by John Kraus.
Owners: Francisco and Kristina Migoya
211 Cottage St., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
845-471-7626 • www.hudsonchocolates.com
Chocolate philosophy: I founded Hudson Chocolates because I have always had a deep and intense respect and passion for producing chocolates of the highest quality. In my years in the profession of pastry chef, I have been able to perfect the technique that is needed to make these products in accordance to my very high standards and to execute nothing but the best confections. My wife Kris shares this vision and is an integral part of what makes us tick.
But technique and standards mean nothing if the ingredients are of poor quality. At Hudson Chocolates we use a variety of fine chocolates, all of them of the highest quality and thoughtfully chosen for a particular purpose.
The ingredients used to make the fillings of each of our chocolates are of the same importance as the chocolate itself. We use hormone-free dairy products from the Hudson Valley and as many fruits and produce from this region when they are in season. The Hudson Valley, however, is not home to many other fine ingredients, and when that is the case we are careful to ship only those products whose quality warrants a flight across the ocean or across the country.
We want to give our customers an experience with chocolate like they have never had before. From receiving the beautifully designed signature box (each numbered and signed by me) to tasting its contents, where every single piece is the result of years of testing and research. Carefully balanced flavors and textures crafted and developed with the utmost care to provide our customers the most pleasurable experience they’ve ever had with chocolate.
Inspiration: Chocolate is one of the most versatile materials available to us pastry chefs, and the possibilities of what we can do with it are, in my opinion, still mostly untapped.
Business profile: We produce our chocolates in a recently renovated building that was originally built in 1935 as a brick factory. We don’t consider ourselves a retail store per se, but we do open our shop to the public on Saturdays from 1 to 6 p.m. Our customers are varied. We get many people who come up from NYC, many locals and a lot of students from The Culinary Institute of America, which is fantastic.
Our packaging is very special. Our bar envelopes are die-cut in the shape of the Hudson River, and the dot on the front and center of the logo is not accidental, it is exactly where Poughkeepsie is located along the Hudson River. So we have a tremendous sense of pride in our region and really embrace our sense of place. We offer a large array of products, from bars, filled bars, confections and panned items.
Chocolate varieties: It depends but as of now we offer 38 different products and, within those we have collections like our 16 Piece Modernist Collection Box and a seasonal box with 12 flavors, those currently being The Hudson Valley Fall Collection.
Signature chocolate: Our 16-Piece Modernist Collection box is the pinnacle of what Hudson Chocolates means.
Most unique piece: Our Hudson Valley Mountain Range Bar. It is a bar in which each mountain is filled with a different filling, meant to be shared by a group of people.
Personal quote: “Technique is everything.”
Chocolates by Francisco Migoya.
Morel Chocolatier, Inc
Owners: Christophe Morel and Héva Morel
1275 Gay-Lussac #101, Boucherville, Quebec J4B 7K1
450-857-1050 • www.morelchocolatier.com
Chocolate philosophy: Chocolate, for me, is the source of many things. A source of pleasure, of course, but also of openness to the world, the integrity of craft, and respect for a noble product that evokes pure emotion.
Inspiration: My childhood memories, filled with chocolate and pastries, are my daily source of inspiration. Over time, developing my chocolate creations has led to a dialogue with my inner child. I’ve always been an incurable gourmand, and I want to make chocolates so irresistible you can’t help but empty the box.
How long has your shop been in business? We started the business in 2005. The exaltation of having accomplished my dream was only matched by my desire to share the true joy that chocolate can deliver.
Business profile: We produce fresh chocolates, French macarons, chocolate bars and confectionery from our factory in Boucherville, south shore of Montreal, and sell them through specialized boutiques all over Quebec. Our chocolates appeal to people who like to discover the unique taste of a chocolate made with high quality ingredients. We also make chocolate for hotels, restaurants and under private labels. We sell through our website, too.
Chocolate varieties: We have more than 30 varieties of chocolates. We also have different collections such as truffles, cherries and caramels. Our collections celebrate the classics while reflecting the local products: rich cream, fresh butter, flower essences, wild fruit, natural honey and, of course, the iconic maple.
Chocolate brand: I mostly use Cacao Barry chocolate. I have my own blend for milk and dark chocolate which represents my idea of those two types of chocolate.
Signature chocolate: “Palet or” is my signature chocolate. I am also renowned for my sculptures. I like working with chocolate, starting from scratch and then the subject takes form. I work chocolate as others work wood. As such, I have been asked to perform in many countries.
Most unique piece: Referring to my sculptures, I truly like my lion or my Santa Claus. Every sculpture that I made is part of me. I put all necessary time in to make the perfect piece. I also do fashion chocolate dresses for special events; one of them recently in Kuala Lumpur. Referring to my chocolates, the answer is again the “Palet or”.
Personal favorite: The authentic “Palet or” is my favorite chocolate. It is a classic chocolate and I never get enough of this chocolate. It is a dark bitter ganache coated with dark chocolate. I put some gold flakes on it as a décor. I like the true and deep taste of chocolate. I won the gold medal in 2012 and 2013 in Canada and silver medal at the 2013 World Final.
Personal quote: “No pleasure without chocolate!”
Chocolates by Christophe Morel.
27 West 20th Street, Suite 904, New York, NY 10011
212-229-4797 • www.chocolatmoderne.com
Chocolate philosophy: Chocolate is such an amazing food historically, culturally and chemically that it offers a wealth of possibilities to a creative person. Artistic and flavor innovation is what inspires me, and my family background and life experiences provide a lot of ideas. I strive to come up with new flavors, textures, designs, and compositions using the myriad ingredients available in the confectionery world and also in savory cuisine. I describe my line overall as influenced by the Belgian style of molded bonbons, but with a French emphasis on ingredients and recipes when it comes to the fillings.
Inspiration: I was still in banking, traveling to Brussels on vacation, and I read an article about Pierre Marcolini in the in-flight magazine—way back in 2000. The description of the innovative things he was doing with chocolate caught my attention because I had never associated chocolate manufacturing with an individual, like a celebrity chef. I immediately felt that higher quality, European-style chocolate with interesting new flavors was going to become a big trend in the U.S. The next morning I saw antique chocolate molds at a market and felt it was a sign that was leading me to become involved with chocolate. I bought two molds, came back to NY and started teaching myself how to make molded, filled bonbons.
Business profile: Our ‘store’ is actually our workshop, a licensed commercial kitchen located on the 9th floor of a commercial loft office building in Chelsea. The building has a lot of charm as it was built in 1904 and our space has high ceilings, large windows and even a view of the Empire State building. We put a sandwich board on the street to let the public know they are welcome to come up and see us in action and purchase chocolates. People really appreciate being invited in.
For the packaging, I chose coral as our signature color. I like it because it is vibrant and eye-catching, represents flavorful foods such as tropical fruits, spices or beautiful things in nature like flowers, and is sophisticated and perhaps a bit retro.
Chocolate varieties: We make over 70 different filled bonbons, 24 different filled bars, six bars with inclusions and five dark drinking chocolate mixes. We also have several themed assortments for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fall, and Winter Holiday. But we find that some of our bonbons become so popular that we have to offer them year round—especially our hand-painted hearts. For Easter we have unique assortments with cultural themes—one has Ukrainian Easter Egg transfer designs and the other has a Greek Easter theme with hand-painted red eggs filled with our Greek flavors. This year for the holidays are doing some spirits and cocktail inspired assortments, Kindred Spirits and Good Libations, with flavors like Blood Orange Negroni with Campari and Hendricks Gin.
Chocolate brand: Exclusively Valrhona
Signature chocolate: I think all of our chocolates are signature because I have created them to be unique in one way or another – either because of the decoration or the uniqueness of the flavor, or both. I think a lot of my peers would feel the same way about their collections. Our original signature was La Dolce Grapefruit. We won some awards for that being the most creative/unusual flavor. Right now our Avant-Garde bar line is hot, both visually, because the bars are drip painted Jackson Pollock style, and because of the new flavors, of which the Blood Orange Bergamot Caramel won the sofi Gold this year, so I suppose that is our current signature. Last year we won the sofi Gold for our Lime Moderne Bar with lime-infused toffee inclusions. There is definitely a citrus theme going on here!
Most unique piece: I think the flavors in our Kimono Collection and Greek Revival Assortments are the most unique, for example, Sesame Shichimi Togarashi Praline, Shiso Lime Ganache, Soy Miso Caramel, Kalamata Olive Caramel, Baklava Walnut Praline. And also our Tangy Tomate Caramel from the Avant-Garde Bar line. These are unique because they combine culinary with confectionery.
Personal favorite: I absolutely don’t have one. I have favorites at different times, depending on my mood. While I started out only making dark chocolate assortments, now some of my favorite flavors are white chocolate ones, like Macadamia Ginger Praline.
Favorite quote: “It is not enough to conquer, one must learn how to seduce.” –Voltaire
I feel this relates to being successful in all of one’s relationships, with friends, children, spouses, partners, colleagues, and employees. You always have to have people on your side to be successful.
Chocolates by Joan Coukos Todd.
Mendocino, CA 95460
510-206-0685 • www.flyingnoir.net
Chocolate philosophy: I am a lifelong artist, exhibiting constantly, so I approach chocolate as I do any art project. I work through compositions of flavor, texture, shape, color and embellishment with a modern sensibility. I believe in savoring small amounts of chocolate – on the dark side, minimal sugar, fine fresh local and organic ingredients whenever possible. I focus on chocolate from the Americas, painted with natural colorants, sustainably packaged in original artwork.
Inspiration: Years ago I carried a silver briefcase every day, always equipped with a good emergency chocolate bar. Then I discovered European chocolate truffles and began making them for my art receptions. During the recession, I took stock of skills and interests that could involve art and decided to pursue chocolate seriously. I found Ecole Chocolat online, completed their programs and immersed myself in all that is chocolate.
Business profile: flying noir boxes are small, meant to be enjoyed fresh. The current box and the new teeny, tiny cubes of heaven are wrapped in hand painted papers from the Art Explorers of Fort Bragg, CA – brave, developmentally disabled adult artists, or by artist friends – with the flying noir black rubber band, printed in silver. The chocolate survival kit: long shelf life bonbons in an aluminum ‘sardine tin’. Single chocolate covered caramels in silk fortune cookie pouches. Large square bars: hand painted and/or carved. Drinking chocolate: same fine chocolate, small batches ground with spices, organic unsweetened fruit, sea salts, no sugar added. My clientele is curious, seeks excellence, pays attention to art, and is open to nuance and layered experience with a bit of whimsy.
Each bonbon marries a specific chocolate to ingredients. The current box assortment is nine pieces: three to four ganache flavors, two hand-painted miniature solid bars, a caramel and two to three crunchy elements. Ganaches change often, and additional limited editions are offered periodically exploring fresh fruits and singular flavors.
Chocolate brands: Grenada Chocolate Co. and Kallari organic darks, Felchlin bittersweet and dark milk, E Guittard white. Sometimes bean to bar makers like Amano. I look for socially responsible, sustainably managed chocolate. And I am keenly interested in submissions to the Heirloom Cacao Project initiated by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association to identify fine flavor cacao trees around the world. It was important to scrape together a contribution to become a founding member in this project. It is imperative that we work to preserve fine flavor diversity in chocolate.
Signature chocolate: Currently the teeny tiny cubes of heaven – SZE: dark milk with Szechuan red peppercorn, caramel and sea salt – hand-cut cubes of naked ganache that focus the palate in an unexpected way, satisfying a momentary craving. Tasters peer at the tiny piece, pop it in, close their eyes, focusing on the sensory experience. Each box contains 30-plus pieces of secret stash. And the name makes people smile.
Most unique piece: Mangopopo – bittersweet ganache, unsweetened mango, bamboo sea salt, dredged in unsweetened raspberry and pimento ahumado, enrobed in 71 or 75% dark. A raspberry illusion of sweetness with a subtle smoky counter-point, mango tart fruit, then fine dark chocolate.
Personal favorite: Perhaps Pao – citrus and peppery sweet spice burnt caramel ground into powder – interesting little bits that explode with flavor when one bites into the chocolate shell.
Favorite quote: “The dragon is flying in the sky.” Found inscribed inside a bracelet, keeps me endeavoring to soar, striving for chocolate that resonates with others, just as between viewer and art piece.
Chocolates by Karen Urbanek.