Jun 22, 2017 Last Updated 12:22 AM, Apr 14, 2017

Dessert Professional’s Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America 2016

Dessert Professional magazine proudly presents the Top 10 Chocolatiers in North America for 2016.

Dessert Professional magazine is proud to announce the recipients of our annual Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America awards. The fine chocolate industry 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. The honorees were feted at a ceremony at the Institute for Culinary Education in New York in October.  

This year’s list includes chocolate artists with diverse backgrounds. Some are former pastry chefs, while others began as chocolatiers. Some are self-taught career changers, while others have been classically trained. Following is a short profile of each of our 2016 Top Ten Chocolatiers.  

Top 10 Chocolatiers 2016
From left to right: Christophe Paume, Hichem Lahreche, Jeremy Karp, Jean-Paul Hepp, Melissa Coppel, Ramon Perez, Richard Tango-Lowy, Daniel Herskovic, Stephen Padilla and Justine Pringle.

Sponsored by
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List of the Top Ten Chocolatiers 2016

 


Melissa Coppel

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Melissa CoppelAtelier Melissa Coppel

2809 West Charleston Blvd., Suite 110, Las Vegas, NV 89102
702-751-6800 • www.melissacoppel.com
Twitter: @melissacoppel

 

Chocolate philosophy: When inspiration comes from within, from your very own emotions, feelings and experiences, that’s when you have developed your own personal style. A style that will represent who you are. It also has to do with maturity, with understanding that less is more. Minimalistic decor and unique and playful favor combinations would define my philosophy.

Inspiration: The ability to transform is what makes chocolate so fascinating for me. I do not agree with being robotic about anything in life. In my opinion, there’s too much focus on techniques, but isn’t it more important to have good ideas? Based on those ideas, you will create your own techniques and that is what will make your work refreshing, unique.

Business profile: Atelier Melissa Coppel in Las Vegas is a space for constant development. It is a school as well, where I invite amazing pastry chefs from around the world to teach. And where I teach three or four-day semi-private chocolate workshops for professionals.

Chocolate varieties: I change my Chocolate Collection for the classes completely every year. But in every class there’s always something new.

Chocolate brand: I use Cacao Barry.

Signature chocolate: My Breakfast Bowl Bonbon: Berry compote, yogurt ganache, raspberry duja, oat crunch.

Most unique piece: Parmesan and Black Pepper Ganache with Salty Hazelnut Duja.

Personal favorite: My Putumayo Bonbon – it is inspired by the flavors of my beautiful country, Colombia: Dark coconut caramel, passion fruit ganache and Maria cookie crunch.

Personal quote: “The way you do anything, is the way you do everything.”

 

 


Jean-Paul Hepp

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Jean-Paul HeppChocodiem LLC

Owners: Jean-Paul (JP) Hepp, Eveline Hepp
325 Northampton Street, Easton, PA 18042
610-829-2722 • www.chocodiem.com
Twitter: @Chocodiem

 

Chocolate philosophy: The Chocodiem brand, as the Latin “diem” suggests, is about seizing the day with attentiveness to beauty, both visually and texturally. I surround myself with a team that shares this core value, incorporating designers, painters, writers, and even a visual data-scientist. To sustain the Chocodiem culture, our two shops are located in artist communities. These communities care deeply about incorporating the finest local and imported ingredients.

Inspiration: As a European, I love fine artisan Belgian chocolate. (We used to have the highest density of Michelin stars!) I also have an innate capacity to create. After traveling with my daughter, I started to realize there are people out there that must miss, or have never tried, old-world-chocolates. Light bulb moment – Chocodiem!

Business profile: Both shops are known for silk-glove customer service, stunning rich chocolate and hot pink colored packaging, and an adventurous assortment of truffles that delight the eyes and palates of discerning patrons. The walls and countertops complement the packaging design.

The Easton, PA location is “action central” for production and sharing what we know. People love watching truffles being made. This location also has a community kitchen, so chocolate classes are part of the overall brand experience. Our first location is in Clinton, NJ, nestled in with an art gallery. We launched here in September 2012. Our second location is in the Easton Public Market in PA. We launched here in April 2016 to catch the emerging market for culinary delights.

Photo credit: Nick Speer.

Chocolate varieties: We typically carry 12 classics: Naked dark chocolate, espresso truffles, varieties of caramel, mint, and alcohol infused ganache (max. alcohol < 0.5% vol.).

Chocolate brands: I prefer the Ecuadorian cacao, and I also incorporate products from Belgian, French, and Swiss cacao. However, what distinguishes Belgian chocolates is the uniqueness of recipes to make declarative distinctions.

Signature chocolate: We carry a signature box with the 12 classic flavors, noted above.

Most unique piece: Our Pearl Truffle – the jewel of our collection. Many of our customers comment on how it’s too beautiful to eat! And yet it’s delicious as well. It’s filled with our naked dark chocolate ganache, dipped in white chocolate then dusted with a fine iridescent sugar.

Personal favorite: My ultimate favorite is Belgian Rocher. It’s a dark chocolate ganache rolled in cacao powder. It delivers a powerful chocolate flavor.

Personal quote: “Surround yourself with talented people. Your world will take on a unique beauty.”

Photo credit: Nick Speer.

 

 


Daniel Herskovic

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Daniel HerskovicMayana Chocolate

Owners: Tamara and Daniel Herskovic
1319 Valley Road Suite #1, Spooner, Wisconsin 54801
715-635-4729 • www.MayanaChocolate.com
Twitter: @MayanaChocolate

 

Chocolate philosophy: I like to create finely crafted chocolate that is beautifully presented. I feel it is important to connect with the flavors that Americans grew up with, but present them in an elegant and exciting way. What American does not love peanut butter and chocolate? Our Kitchen Sink Bar is an example of connecting with what Americans find nostalgic, but still being able to share the shelves with other innovative brands in the chocolate industry. Another important philosophy is taking the long slow road to creating excellent confections. We make it a point to candy our own orange peels, grind our own praline paste, and go the extra mile to bring an interesting flavor and textural element to our confections. Our Coconut Dream Bar features a beautiful crispy coconut nougatine recipe that I learned from Laurent Branlard. It’s difficult to roll out and even more challenging to cut, as it needs to be cut immediately while very hot from the oven. Production would go a lot faster if we left out the crispy nougatine base, but it would not be as wonderful of a bar. That’s why we decide to go the extra mile to create the best chocolate experience.

Inspiration: I was a caterer in Chicago and I wanted to create a take home gift for my clients’ guests. I started creating boxes of truffles. I then became obsessed! The first few boxes the truffles were the size of golf balls. I then decided to study with masters. I continue to study with some of the best chocolatiers in the United States and Europe. I like to think my chocolates are a more appropriate size these days.

How long has your shop been in business? I have been making chocolate full time since August 2013.  I started making chocolates for sale in 2007 while living in Chicago. My business partner and wife, Tamara, and I had the dream of relocating to rural Northwest Wisconsin. We presented a business plan to the Northwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. They helped fund the buildout of our new factory as well as provide us with mentorship in growing a business. We love working and living up here.

Business profile: We have a small factory in beautiful Northwest Wisconsin. We are mostly a wholesale manufacturer of artisan candy bars and bonbons. We supply our chocolate to specialty food stores, gifts shops, hotels, and distributors. We also provide a line of chocolate gifts for weddings and corporate gifts. Our new packaging is inspired by Art Deco architecture. We are very excited to launch it for 2017! I would also like to emphasize that although I am the being recognized for this award, I am not the only one responsible for creating an excellent chocolate company. First and foremost, my business partner and wife Tamara has joined me for every accomplishment as well as every setback and challenge. We are an amazing team! I also value the hard work of my assistant chocolatier Sara Snaza, our lead sales person Lynnea, our Jane of all trades, Ann Schroeder, the kind assistance of L’rae Flynn, Judy Dow, as well as Rick Roeser and Jeff Dietrich of the Northwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

Chocolate varieties: We currently have six flavors of artisan candy bars. Our Kitchen Sink Bar and our Coconut Dream Bar are our best sellers. We also make custom candy bars. A number of stores across the country ask us to create a candy bar flavor that is unique to them.  We also have an innovative and delicious line of chocolate bonbons as well as special two-, four-, nine- and 16-piece box collections.

Chocolate brands: We use Cacao Barry, Callebaut, and Guittard.

Signature chocolate: We can never make enough Kitchen Sink Bars. It’s our top selling candy bar featuring peanut butter, milk chocolate, pretzels and salted caramel, enrobed in 66% dark chocolate.

Most unique piece: Carmelized Cashew, Orange Peel, and 75% Dark Chocolate Ganache bonbon. I love the textures of the crunchy cashews, the homemade candied orange peel, and creamy ganache.

Personal favorite: I think our Coconut Dream Bar is pretty wonderful, with a crispy coconut cookie, salted caramel, creamy coconut, enrobed in Dark Chocolate. This has converted many coconut haters to coconut lovers.

Favorite quote: “Don’t get high on your own supply,” from the movie Scarface. I believe Michelle Pfeiffer said this to Al Pacino in the movie. I don’t practice this enough because I love eating what we create!

 

 


Jeremy Karp

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Jeremy KarpBatch PDX

Beaverton, OR
503-913-3789 • www.Batchpdx.com
Twitter: @batchpdx

 

Chocolate philosophy: We sell hedonism, not sustenance. That said, every chocolate we make must be delicious. While we may make some off-beat flavors, we never do “weird” just to be “weird”.  It has to work well. Years ago when I worked as a line cook, I was told that you are only as good as the last plate you put in the window. I believe our chocolates are only as good as the last one you have tasted from us. Our favorite quote that directs us is that of Richard Olney: ‘Simplicity – no doubt – is a very complex thing.’

Inspiration: I have always had a love for chocolate. After years of working in the restaurant industry, I was looking for a challenge that would allow me to follow my calling, which is to facilitate people having a really great time. For me making amazing chocolates seemed like the best way to do that.

Chocolate varieties: We make two bars at the moment. The Batch Bar – caramel with an almond/coconut praline enrobed in dark chocolate. The Twicks Bar – 46% milk chocolate from the Dominican Republic filled with caramel and a shortbread cookie. We have about 50 different truffles/bonbons that we make. Usually 12 to 14 are in production at any given time. They change seasonally and sometimes weekly. There are some that are our standards but it is always interesting to have something different for people to experience.

Chocolate brand: Valrhona.

Signature chocolate: Our signature chocolate is Spicy Passion. Imagine a burst of passion fruit in your mouth. It is a little sweeter than most of our collection, but that is cleaned up by the heat that comes up at the end. We believe that every piece should be balanced and the sweet/heat achieves that in this chocolate.

Most unique piece: While our signature probably falls under this category, I would say that the Candy Cap Mushroom does as well. People are always shocked when they try this chocolate to hear that it is flavored with only chocolate, cream, butter and candy cap mushrooms. These mushrooms have an amazing flavor that is similar to maple syrup.

Personal favorite: While I dislike this question, because I always say it is like asking me which my favorite child is, I would say that one I am very proud of is the Yuzu Gimlet. I am a sucker for gin. I was overjoyed when I was able to balance Aria gin, yuzu and chocolate to create this one.

Personal quote: “A truffle/bonbon is the perfect delivery device for a culinary experience. That said, you get only one, maybe two bites. It better be just right!”

 

 


Richard Tango-Lowy

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Richard Tango-LowyDancing Lion Chocolate

Owner: Richard Tango-Lowy
917 Elm St., Manchester, NH 03101
603-625-4043 • www.DancingLionChocolate.com
Twitter: @LoveOfChocolate

 

Chocolate philosophy: I source from small farms and artisan chocolate makers around the world. While Dancing Lion Chocolate is not a bean-to-bar company, I work collaboratively with some of the most innovative and interesting craft chocolate makers in the industry. Craft chocolate changes with each harvest, and my products reflect chocolate as a naturally evolving ingredient. I extend that philosophy to all of our ingredients: local, artisan, and as spectacular as I can get.

Inspiration: I first experienced real couverture chocolate about 20 years ago, and fell in love.

Training: I completed Ecole Chocolat’s Professional Chocolatier course in 2007, then their Master Classes in France and Tuscany. I’m now on the faculty of Ecole Chocolat, and teach several online tasting classes. Beginning this August, we’ll be offering the “Master Chocolatier Recipe Development Program” for Ecole Chocolat, a five-day course for chocolate professionals.

Business profile: Dancing Lion Chocolate is located in the historic commercial district of Manchester, New Hampshire, USA. There’s a lot of beautiful red brick nearby, from the old millyards, now renovated. Our building is tiny – 12 feet wide – but we’ve managed to fit our production kitchen, packaging area, and an intimate cafe with six tables. The shop has a very warm feel: one part Paris, one part Central America, and one part New England. We display our small, ever-changing selection of bonbons, bars, and chocolate art in a restored wooden jewelry case. There are orchids on the tables. People sit here, sipping chocolate from pottery bowls, for hours. Our chocolate bar boxes and bonbon gift boxes are hand-made in Nepal from Lokta papers, tied with raffia, stamped with our logo. Sunil, in Nepal, has taken great care to get them just right, and they’re beautiful.One of my long-time customers described the Dancing Lion Chocolate clientele as “people who are passionate about something, it doesn’t matter what.” Our customers are of all ages, all financial situations, all political affiliations, a huge variety of ethnicities and origins. They know that when they buy something from us, it will never disappoint them and will absolutely be worth the money.

Pricing: We sell by the piece, and the prices range from $3.50 for a truffle to $5 or more for a piece with unusual ingredients, particularly rare chocolate, or special artistic merit. Our bars range from $10 to $15.

Chocolate varieties: We make each bonbon recipe only once; 20 to 200 of a piece. When it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Each is a tiny piece of art, a gift from me to the person who (I hope) will enjoy it.

Chocolate brands: My Tango 67% Madagascar, Kenshi 70% Dark Milk, and Axiom 60% are created in collaboration with Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate. My new Liona 70% Dominican Republic and Creos 72% Maranon Canyon Dark Milk are created with Bryan Graham of Fruition Chocolate, and my Tikal 43% Guatemalan Milk is created by Carlos Eichenberger of Danta Chocolate in Guatemala. I’m also partial to Mesocacao’s 100% Nicaraguan, along with several of Valrhona’s more unusual couvertures.

Signature chocolate: I make each bonbon once, developing each recipe around whatever’s fresh and inspiring to me at the moment. The “You Don’t Know Jack” jackfruit truffle’s crazy good. The “Blackberry Rose” fresh blackberry and Iranian rose blossom bonbon’s elegant. Customers nearly fought over the recent “Hot Karma” ghost chili truffles dusted in Imperial Sichuan Peppercorn sugar.

Shipping: I use the United States Postal Service almost exclusively, check temperatures along the route and at the destination and package as necessary. We’ve shipped to many parts of the world, including France, Japan, China, Sweden, and even Antarctica.

How does your shop differ from others? Food is fundamental, it’s a way of experiencing life. You see something beautiful, put it in your mouth, have a flavor experience. The art becomes part of you and is gone. But it’s unpretentious; it’s something I made for you to eat, and it isn’t complete until you eat it. It can be as simple as chocolate bark with candied bell pepper and Uzbek black cumin, or it can be as spectacular as a Vermont landscape painted in cocoa butter on a chocolate bar. It’s food.

Motto: Dancing Lion Chocolate’s motto is “Chocolate As Art,” but my personal motto is really “Life As Art.” Art’s all around you everywhere, every day. Why not chocolate?

 

 


Hichem Lahreche

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Hichem LahrecheCriollo Chocolatier LLC

2125 Orinoco Drive, Suite #2, Orlando, FL 32837
708-252-9700 • www.criollochocolatier.com

 

Chocolate philosophy: My philosophy is to reveal the exquisite taste of the origin of the cacao, which is why I named my business ‘Criollo’. From different countries all over the Equatorial belt, from Maracaibo, Venezuela to Bolivia to West Africa and Asia, each cacao tree has its own and unique flavor and aroma. We artisan chocolatiers transform all these amazing flavors by combining them with other natural ingredients to make personalized pieces of art that explode on your palate, creating an amazing sensation along with a healthy result.

Inspiration: From a very young age I was exposed to different kinds of chocolate and sweets from Europe and North America. When I was a little boy in school, my mother and grandmother would offer us our four o’clock snack, which was a quarter of a French baguette filled with a bar of bittersweet chocolate from the brand ‘Poulin’ – this was my biggest childhood memory. My love of chocolates and sweets kept growing to the point that I had to stop college and enroll in the famous L’Ecole LeNotre, led by the legendary Gaston LeNotre. He revolutionized the art of pastry. My dream was to work for the best pastry chef on the planet and learn the craft. My goal was to one day create my own brand of chocolate, pastry and ice cream. But the chocolate work was very unique and so precise, with science and chemistry behind it. Flavors, shapes and structures attracted my imagination until it became my new passion.

Chocolate varieties: We have created a signature line of 19 unique chocolate bonbons using the best ingredients on earth with very unique flavors. We also work and support local Florida farmers. All our fillings and compotes are made using the best fruit purees. We use only single origin chocolate, just as in our name,’Criollo’, which is the cacao tree that produces the most beautiful and flavorful cacao beans on the planet. We are preservative free. We also customize special chocolates for customers.

Chocolate brand: We use Cacao Barry origin collections from different countries – Tanzania, Venezuela, the Equator, Cuba and Ghana.

Signature chocolate: Our signature chocolate bonbon is the vanilla butter Caramel Fleur de Sel. Finished with a single origin 40% Ghana milk chocolate ganache, we use a 64% Guayaquil bittersweet chocolate for the shell.

Personal favorites: Local Florida Honey (with an infusion of fresh rosemary ganache); premium Cuban Coffee (with Ghana milk chocolate ganache in a bittersweet chocolate shell); North African style Mint Tea (with Cacao Barry Zephyr white chocolate ganache); Caramel Fleur de Sel (made with sea salt from Brittany with a 75% Tanzania bittersweet chocolate shell).

Business profile: We are an artisanal chocolatier specializing in wholesale chocolates and special chocolate decorations for desserts of all kind. We supply large companies, parks, resorts and four- and five-star luxury hotels and casinos. We will soon add a large fleet of cruise lines to our client list. Our product is handcrafted with high detail. It has a shelf life of only three weeks. We are HACCP certified nationwide and are an approved vendor for the largest company in the U.S. Every six months we have an HACCP audit from a third party company to evaluate our lab and make sure that we keep up our good standards, and we consistently have scores above 95% satisfaction. A clean, safe work place is crucial to our business. As our business grows, we plan to expand our lab very soon.

Personal quote: “Chocolate is so unique, even Nature has nowhere else concentrated such an abundance of the most valuable food in such limited space as the cacao tree.”

 

 


Stephen Padilla

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Stephen PadillaShane Confectionery

Owners: Ryan and Eric Berley
110 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-922-1048 • www.shanecandies.com

 

Chocolate philosophy: Simplicity is the goal and key to making great chocolates. There are so many nuanced flavors to specific chocolates and for me it is best to let the chocolate shine, especially with our bean-to-bar origin squares.

Inspiration: I can’t say one specific thing inspired me to be a chocolatier, especially with the long winding road I took getting here. But if I have to try and pinpoint an answer, it’ll be this: chocolate can be quite temperamental, needing a seasoned hand to turn out the highest quality product, and I find that challenge to be addicting.

How long has your shop been in business? Shane’s has been in existence in Old City Philadelphia since 1863, and at our current location since 1911. The Berley Brothers have owned Shane’s for the last 12 years, and have employed great Chocolatiers like Kaitlyn Gannon—the Head Confectioner before me—who did the very best to keep the soul of Shane’s intact while still striving to improve the quality of products to what customers expect in the present.

Business profile: Shane’s has been in existence since 1863 in Old City Philadelphia, going through two different owning families and a remodel in 1911, where it has been in operation at 110 Market St. ever since.  Eric and Ryan took over Shane’s from the original Shane family after 99 years. From the antique furniture, paint that matches—as best as we can of course—the walls of Independence Hall, and the period dress our candy clerks use, the décor is as best as we can match how Shane’s was when it was remodeled in the early 1900’s. Our lead designers, Pavia Burroughs and Sarah Eberly, handle the design of our packaging, managing to keep it all in period motifs while maintaining labeling standards of 2016.  It’s quite frankly astonishing what those two are able to do.  The products we sell range from penny candies and licorice to house-made caramels, bonbons, kettle corn in the summer, fudges and a slew of other products—and I haven’t even mentioned our chocolate café.

Chocolate varieties: Our chocolate selection is almost ever expanding with our bean to bar single origin options from our chocolate maker Kevin Paschall. Single origin bars from Ecquador, Peru, Venezuela, and our new ones from Oko Caribe in the Dominican Republic are on display and used in a variety of different products within the café. As for seasonal items, we are constantly changing not just with holidays, but also with special events happening in our city, for example, the Pope’s visit in September, 2015 or the Democratic National Convention this past July. Currently we’re ramping up for the holidays, pushing chocolate drinks with flavored marshmallows, and we’re really excited for a holiday gift box of four molded bonbons decorated to match the gifts under your holiday tree. The centers are orange spiced caramel, gingerbread, white chocolate peppermint, and amaretto.

Chocolate brands: When I first arrived at Shane’s we were using Wilbur and Peter’s chocolates, because they were made in Pennsylvania. However, when we found out that was no longer the case we switched over to Barry Callebaut chocolate just in time for the holidays. Our future goal is to expand our Chocolate Café and our bean-to-bar chocolates in hopes of hand-dipping all of our centers in a house-made chocolate.

Signature chocolate: The signature chocolates for Shane’s would easily be our buttercream centers. Though they are the best kind of acquired tastes, the fact that we are using the same buttercream machine that was first used in the shop nearly a century ago make it the piece you have to try when you come in. I mean, how often are you going to truly experience anything made the same way your grandparents would have when they were children?

Most unique piece: Easily our bean-to-bar chocolate. We’re one of two places in Philadelphia that can boast that we make our own chocolate, and although we’re still growing into our own there, we have a wonderful array of origin squares, origin bars, and bean-to-bar chocolate drinks in our chocolate café.

Personal favorite: Our coffee double dips—a fondant center with house-made coffee extract, espresso dipped in white chocolate, then again in our house-made bean-to-bar chocolate that has coffee blended in—is my favorite piece. We had a coffee buttercream that was not selling as much as we liked, and this piece became its replacement. I’m fond of it because it really showcases the evolution of Shane’s started by our last Head Confectioner, Kaitlyn Gannon.

Favorite quote: I’m 27 years old, so I won’t pretend to have some special knowledge I’ve learned over a long extensive career, so instead I’ll share a quote I like to think about before coming up with new products: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 


Christophe Paume

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Christophe PaumeChristophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier

90 Society Street and 1901 Ashley River Road, Charleston, NC 29401
843-297-8674 • www.christophechocolatier.com
Twitter: @ChristophePaume

 

Chocolate philosophy: The first thing you must taste is chocolate. There needs to be a balance between the ingredients and the flavor of the chocolate, as you don’t want any flavor to overpower the chocolate. You must respect the chocolate.

Inspiration: I was born into it. My father and his father were boulangers in France, but also made pastries and chocolate, so I am third generation. I enjoyed watching them work.

Business profile: We have two boutiques in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. Both are very different. One reflects more of a modern twist with bright white and orange, and the other plays on more of a French café feel, with warm browns and touches of the orange from our logo. Both shops display our hand-painted and truffle chocolate collections, as well as our bars and other packaged items. We also make French Viennoiserie, desserts, and French macarons.

Chocolate varieties: We offer 31 different chocolates daily, as well as 35 different chocolate bars, chocolate structures, and various other chocolate confections such as mendicants, chocolate-covered orange peel, lemon peel and rochers. We do offer seasonal chocolate pieces throughout the year, both in our hand-painted line and in sculpture form.

Chocolate brands: A majority of the chocolate that we use is Cacao Noel, but we also use some Valrhona and some Cacao Barry.

Signature chocolate: Our hand-painted line is our signature product, but specifically the caramel sea salt and the praline. During the holidays, our praline serves as a base for many different flavor combinations.

Most unique piece: This would be the bleu cheese chocolate. It is made with a Rochefort bleu cheese in a dark chocolate ganache. 

Personal favorite: The praline piece. It reminds me of being a child in France, as this is the piece I would eat in my father’s shop when I was little. 

 

 


Ramon Perez

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Ramon PerezPuur Chocolat

Owners: Ramon and Nicole Perez
Sacramento, CA 95838
530-277-0139 • www.puurchocolat.com

 

Chocolate philosophy: Keep it pure and simple while maintaining a fine balance of new and adventurous.

Inspiration: Chocolate is such a curious product with endless possibilities. It is exciting to be able to work with such a vessel in which the possibilities are limitless.

Business profile: We are an online chocolate boutique offering high-end confections. Our product line is relatively small and for a reason – we have kept it small so we are able to really hone in and focus on our craft by creating the best chocolate experience. We are big on textures, so our chocolates really utilize a full array of textures, as does our packaging. For example, our paper we use to hand wrap our chocolate bars are handmade. Specifically chosen for its depth, color, and texture which adds a richness to end result. Our product line contains a line of 24 bonbons (which change seasonally) two chocolate bars, each filled with a different flavor, sea salt caramels (two variations, plain and enrobed) and six candy bars. We carefully source our ingredients, using Strauss Dairy, and making three trips a week to the farmers’ market. The Sacramento region grows some of the most phenomenal products I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with, so we feel very fortunate to be able to utilize such incredible product and pair it with some remarkable chocolates. We are currently in the process of finding a location for a store front.

Chocolate varieties: We have 24 flavors of bonbons, four chocolate bars and four candy bars. We do a seasonal lines as well, typically consisting of six flavors.

Chocolate brands: Cacao Barry, Republica Del Cacao.

Signature chocolate: Eucalyptus Ganache with Lemon Pate de Fruit.

Most unique piece: Squid Ink with Sesame: three layers consisting of squid ink caramel, lemon peel ganache, black sesame praline.

Personal favorite: Eucalyptus and Lemon – it is the first chocolate we came up with and the only one that hasn’t changed. I was born in the Netherlands, and moved to the U.S. in 1989. Driving up the California Coast from Southern California, as soon as you hit the Central Coast, the scent of Eucalyptus is everywhere. I have been in love with eucalyptus ever since.

Favorite quote: “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” –Salvatore Dali

 

 


Justine Pringle

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Justine PringleNunu Chocolates

Owners: Justine Pringle and Andy Laird
529 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
917-776-7102 • www.nunuchocolates.com
Twitter: @nunuchocolates

 

Chocolate philosophy: We believe the world is a better place when chocolate is involved. Ours are meant to be accessible and immediately provoke a simple visceral response: yum.

Inspiration: My husband and business partner Andy is a musician and while he was on tour we wanted to come up with something for the merchandise table other than cd’s, concert shirts and posters. We came up with making custom small batch chocolates and became more and more enthralled with the whole process. We started selling them at shops in Brooklyn and went from there.

How long has your shop been in business? We’ve had the business for almost 10 years. Our first shop in Boerum Hill is nine years old, the one in Park Slope is two years old and in a few months we’ll be opening a third location at the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Business profile: At our shops, people can sit with a glass of wine, a craft beer, latte, or Frozen Hot Chocolate and watch us doing production right on site. The aesthetic is warm and comforting rather than fancy and flash. We use a lot of reclaimed wood for the decor and furniture and likewise, our packaging is craft and recycled. Our customers range from neighbors down the street to folks coming from all over the world.

Chocolate varieties: We have about 40 core flavors, but are always experimenting with one-offs, collaborations, and seasonal offerings.

Chocolate brand: We use Santander from Colombia.

Signature chocolate: Our Salt Caramel is one of the first flavors we ever did and is still our best seller.

Most unique piece: We have a Nunu ‘six-pack’ Beer Box which features six pieces, each with a different craft beer mixed into the ganache.

Personal favorite: We make a ganache using Amarula, a cream liquor from South Africa where I grew up. So it brings me home.

Personal quote: “Do what makes you happy and enjoy life with every bite.”

 

 


2016 Hall of Fame Inductee:

Jacques Torres

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Jacques Torres Chocolate

Through his early years as a pastry chef, Jacques Torres developed a deep affinity and passion for chocolate. Raised in France, Jacques fulfilled his American dream in 2000 with the opening of his first chocolate factory, Jacques Torres Chocolate in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. Jacques was a pioneer – the first artisan chocolatier to make bean-to-bar chocolate. Jacques prides himself on specializing in fresh, hand-crafted chocolates using premium ingredients free of preservatives and artificial flavors.

In 2004, Jacques opened his second chocolate factory and flagship store, Jacques Torres Chocolate, in downtown New York City on Hudson Street. The demand for his confections grew rapidly, and Jacques soon opened nine additional retail stores throughout Manhattan, as well as two ice cream locations. In 2013, Jacques moved his production to a 40,000-square-foot chocolate manufacturing space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Jacques’s story begins in Bandol, France, a small town in the southern region of Provence. At an early age, he was inspired to start a culinary career thanks to his love for food and making people happy.  Despite not having extensive prior training, but having completed a three-year apprenticeship, Jacques landed a job with Michelin two-star chef Jacques Maximin at the Hotel Negresco in 1980, starting a relationship that would last eight years and take him around the globe. In 1986, Jacques was awarded the prestigious M.O.F. medal in Pastry, and was the youngest pastry chef in history to earn the distinction.

In 1988, Jacques ventured to the U.S. as the Corporate Pastry Chef for Ritz-Carlton.  In 1989, Sirio Maccioni invited Jacques to work at New York City’s most famous restaurant, Le Cirque, as the Executive Pastry Chef. For 11 years, Jacques served presidents, kings, and celebrities in his every day work at the celebrated restaurant.

During his time at Le Cirque, Jacques released a 52-episode public television series, Dessert Circus with Jacques Torres, along with two companion cookbooks, Dessert Circus: Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make At Home (William Morrow), and Dessert Circus At Home (William Morrow).  He also hosted a television series, Chocolate with Jacques Torres, on the Food Network for three years.  Jacques’ third cookbook, A Year in Chocolate (Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was released in 2008. He received numerous awards over the years as well as The James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year Award in 1994, and was inducted into The James Beard Who’s Who of American Food & Beverage Award in 2003.

Since 1993, Jacques has proudly served as Dean of Pastry Arts at the award-winning International Culinary Center. He designed the curriculum of the fast-track Professional Pastry Arts program and offers internship opportunities to ICC pastry students.

Jacques makes his home in New York City, and is married to Hasty Torres, a fellow chocolatier, who founded her own chocolate business in Beverly Hills, Madame Chocolat.

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