Mar 23, 2017 Last Updated 7:11 AM, Jan 26, 2017

Dessert Professional’s Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America 2015

Dessert Professional magazine proudly presents the Top 10 Chocolatiers in North America for 2015.

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. 

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 2015 Top Ten Chocolatiers.  

Sponsored by
Cacao Barry

 

List of the Top Ten Chocolatiers 2015

 


Michael Antonorsi

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Michael
AntonorsiChuao Chocolatier

2345 Camino Vida Roble, Carlsbad, CA 92011
760-476-1668 • www.chuaochocolatier.com
Twitter: @ChuaoChocoholic
Facebook: ChuaoChocolatier
Instagram: @ChuaoChocolatier

 

Chocolate philosophy: To bring joyful chocolate experiences that are not only delicious, but also fun, approachable and significantly relevant.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? After 14 years working in the technology field, I decided to follow my heart and pursue my lifelong dream – to become a chef in Paris. During this transition, I realized that chocolates are the best platform to deliver arousing, emotional experiences that connect deeply with our soul. After all, scientifically speaking, cacao is called the “food of the gods”.

Business profile: We have two chocolate cafes in San Diego. Our original location is located in Encinitas Lumberyard, where we started making everything in the kitchen in back, and another in Del Mar Highlands. Our luxurious chocolate boutiques serve guests locally roasted coffee, drinking chocolate and creamy gelato. We offer a full range of chocolate bonbons and truffles, as well as our signature chocolate bar line that we sell across specialty retailers nationwide. Other specialized items such as our dark chocolate enrobed gingerettes and exclusive bonbon collections are offered every year throughout the seasons. Additionally, we have a tremendous local following of loyal customers as well as tourists, as our chocolate cafes and our Carlsbad factory & HQ are located in very popular coastal areas.

Chocolate varieties: We offer over 70 different chocolate confections and create seasonal collections as well for several holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, etc. For the holidays, we are currently offering a Holiday Bonbon Collection that comes in 5-, 9- or 16-piece collections, several gift baskets and tower assortments, as well as two limited-edition, holiday-inspired chocolate bars.

Chocolate brands: We use a proprietary blend of premium chocolate, which is crafted to my specifications, using only the highest quality, ethically sourced cacao.

Signature chocolate: The Firecracker bar, crafted with dark chocolate, popping candy, chipotle and sea salt, is what we’re known for. It’s the most fun multi-sensory chocolate experience we create, even attracting attention from Food Network, the Today show and Time magazine. It was originally crafted as a seasonal truffle for New Year’s Eve, with a chipotle caramel fudge center. It was so popular that we kept it around and eventually the chocolate bar and mini chocolate bar were born. Everyone who tries it calls it “a party in your mouth” in between fits of giggles. I think it really brings out the kid in all of us, and that is what we’re all about!

Most unique piece: We have so many chocolates that elicit joy in such unique ways; it’s hard to choose just one! Our Goat Cheese & Pear bonbon is delightful, with tangy goat cheese, Pear Williams puree and crushed black pepper buttercream in bold dark chocolate. Our Salted Chocolate Crunch bar was created as an ode to my Venezuelan childhood, snacking chocolate paninis, but the bar version has toasted panko breadcrumbs and sea salt in rich, dark chocolate. Since we are all about creating chocolate experiences that arouse the senses, one that comes to mind is the oh-so-decadent Love Child bonbon. It’s my interpretation of the classic chocolate-covered strawberry and wine pairing. We make it only for Valentine’s and, let me tell you, we drool in anticipation all year. We start with delicious dried strawberries and soak them in Port wine before they’re cuddled up in Port wine-infused dark chocolate ganache. Each chocolate strawberry is formed by hand and coated with rich dark chocolate and painted with white chocolate lines for an elegant finish. I’d just like to note that I am not responsible for any love children that may be born for those that indulge in the decadent Love Child bonbons.

Personal favorite: This is a hard question to answer because all of them have been my favorite. I fall in love for a new favorite treat every week, depending on my mood and what my body is craving at that moment. If I have to narrow it down to one particular chocolate experience that I love to share, it would have to be our Pop Corn Pop chocolate bar, which simulates popcorn popping in your mouth. Fun fact: there’s no popcorn in it! I start with our creamy, premium milk chocolate and add puffed amaranth, toasted corn chips and sea salt. I love to share it and guide them through a “chocolate meditation” in which you just have to allow yourself to let go and surrender to the process. With just the first bite, you let the creamy chocolate melt as you rub it with your tongue and feel the popping and crackling happening – it’s a truly fun experience! At the end, when all of the chocolate has been absorbed, you are left with little crunchy pieces that release the sense and flavor of butter popcorn. The best part of it all is that our bar is free of any artificial flavorings, preservatives, and colorings –it’s just full of fun!

Personal quote: “Everything we do in life, if viewed in a million year’s perspective, becomes irrelevant. Only the moments of joy we experience will remain relevant, under any perspective of time.”

 

 

 


Anette Righi DeFendi

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Anette Right DeFendiKOHLER Original Recipe Chocolates

Owner: Kohler Co.
725D Woodlake Rd., Kohler, WI 53044
800-778-5591 • www.kohlerchocolates.com
Twitter: @TheAmericanClub

 

Chocolate philosophy: Sometimes simplicity is best. I love traditional flavors with a slight spin. I also enjoy learning about sustainable farming practices and about the farmers who bring our chocolate to life.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to become a pastry chef.  I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, and after I graduated high school, I wanted to attend culinary school. However, at that time, it was difficult to find a pastry-only program, which is what I wanted.  So, I ended up receiving a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. After working in the marketing and communications fields for a number of years, I moved to Chicago where I attended the French Pastry School. I honestly thought I’d end up working in a bakeshop, but after our first day in “chocolate class” I was hooked.  I had incredible instructors at French Pastry School who were passionate about chocolate, and I had never seen anything like what I was exposed to at school. Chocolate is extremely fun and rewarding for me. I love the flavor profiles I can create as well as the different textures and colors.  It’s a dream job.

How long has your shop been in business? The KOHLER Original Recipe Chocolate story begins with turtles. And not just any run-of-the-mill turtle – a complex blend of chocolate; smoky, burnt caramel and finished with salted pecans hand-picked for their size and perfection. The turtle that went through rigorous testing, many recipe tweaks and extensive sampling was perfected by the renowned chefs at The American Club resort, and blessed by Kohler Co. Executive Chairman, Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., to launch KOHLER Original Recipe Chocolates in 2007. At the time, Kohler Co. was seriously considering purchasing a chocolate company to add to its portfolio. In searching for the right chocolate company and the perfect turtle, Mr. Kohler was struck with the realization that taste seldom matched anticipation. It was then he decided the world needed a better turtle and instead of purchasing a chocolate company, he challenged his culinary experts at The American Club resort – the Kohler Co.-owned Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort in Kohler, Wisconsin – to create the finest version of the turtle in the world. The recipe was tested until the taste, texture and flavor profile was exactly perfect. This morsel evolved into the signature Terrapins the company is known for today. Most people don’t immediately make the connection that Kohler Co., the leading manufacturer in kitchen and bath plumbing products also produces such beautifully-crafted and delectable chocolates. With everything Kohler Co. does, it does to the fullest and with dedication to set the bar at the highest level. Our chocolate business is no different and since we launched the Terrapin, we continue to challenge ourselves to grow with thoughtful, meticulously-tested delicious, high-quality chocolates.

Business profile: KOHLER Original Recipe Chocolate signature lines are available year-round at the Craverie Chocolatier Café and online at www.KohlerChocolates.com. The Craverie Chocolatier Café is one of 12 dining establishments throughout the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond, The American Club resort, located in Kohler, Wisconsin. The Craverie Chocolatier Café is reminiscent of a French café and features expanded breakfast items, signature soups from Kohler restaurants, fresh sandwiches, and seasonal salads. All lines of KOHLER Original Recipe Chocolates are available at the Craverie Chocolatier Café and online. In the store specifically, you’ll find walls lined with 4-, 9-, and 32-piece boxes of chocolates as well as a beautiful display case where one can purchase individual pieces. Clientele ranges from online purchases to people who live in the region, to those visiting the resort for a getaway. Our chocolates make the perfect gift so many guests stop by to pick up chocolates as a parting gift or for special occasions.

In addition to the 4-, 9- and 32-piece offerings, KOHLER original Recipe Chocolates also overs other packaging options such as individual pieces, wine box sets and gift towers.

Chocolate varieties: We currently have 12 different product varieties that range from our chocolate pieces such as terrapins, garden ganache and rare facets, to items like trail mix, toffee bark, and chocolate bars. We also offer a number of seasonal products, including:

Holiday Caramels

  • Silver: Sea Salt Caramel is a dark smoky caramel infused with a light taste of sea salt
  • Gold: Traditional and savory Golden Caramel with a hint of brown sugar
  • Red: Ginger Snap Caramel in a dark chocolate shell filled full of soft notes of molasses to resemble a gingerbread cookie
  • Green: Almond Green Caramel infused with a striking almond flavor

Valentine’s Day Hearts

  • A dark-chocolate shell encasing a richly blended raspberry-champagne ganache

Easter Eggs

  • These hand-painted milk chocolate shells are filled with a creamy ganache. The flavors include: Malted Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Cognac, Peanut Butter and Cassis Pate de Fruit, and Strawberries and Cream.

A special Strawberry-Balsamic Rare Facet to support breast cancer research. Our rare facets are artfully-created to capture the complexity and beauty of 63% dark chocolate shell.

Chocolate brands: We use a number of different brands of chocolate, and we continually look for new and unique products to incorporate into our product lines.

Signature chocolate: Our signature chocolate in our Original Buttery Terrapin, which launched our business and continues to be a fan favorite.

Most unique piece: The Platinum is our most unique piece and our only multi-layered piece. It is a dark chocolate shell with two layers on the inside – a pecan praline and a brown sugar caramel. The pecan praline is house made using the same pecans in our Original Buttery Terrapin. In fact, we hand pick the best looking pecans for the top of our terrapins. The rest are used in other recipes such as the Platinum.

Personal favorite: I can’t pick just one. I love them all.  If I was forced to pick, it would likely be something with caramel.

Personal quote: “I’m extremely proud and humbled to receive this award on behalf of the entire team at KOHLER Original Recipe Chocolates.  Our associates are incredibly hard working and passionate about creating high-quality delicious chocolates.” 

 

 

 


Elaine Hsieh & Catharine Sweeney

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Elaine Hsieh & Catharine SweeneyEHChocolatier

Owners: Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney
561 Windsor St., B206, Somerville, MA 02138
617-284-6096 • www.ehchocolatier.com
Twitter: @ehchocolatier
Instagram: @ehchocolatier
Facebook: EHChocolatier

 

Questions answered by Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney

Chocolate philosophy: Chocolate is all about the little details. It’s inspiring when it comes together and a little frustrating when it misbehaves.  That’s why we love working with it so much, we never like doing things the easy way.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? How can you not be inspired by chocolate?  It is a remarkable medium that is at its best when you understand the balance between the science, the art, and the craft of working with it.

How long has your shop been in business? Officially, we just celebrated our five year anniversary in November! But actually, we started a year before then with a monthly chocolate membership program that we offered to only family and friends. Catherine and I had been friends for many years and had always made chocolates and confections together during the holidays, but thought before we got too far into starting a business together, we would test the waters. It was a comfortable way to see if we worked well together and to develop our business model in more detail. Also, it was a great way to raise capital in order to get our business off the ground when we did decide to move ahead five years ago (an early version of crowdfunding).

Business profile: Finding us is quite an adventure and a bit of a scavenger hunt! Our company and production space is located in a multiuse industrial building which is home to an eclectic mix of businesses including woodworkers, antique letterpress, photographers, artists, recording studios, emerging technology and other great companies. We’re a very small business, so once you enter into our space, you’ve basically taken the “tour”.  In keeping with the building’s décor, our space is fairly industrial. There’s a small area when you come in for those avid customers who stop in to shop or pick up their online order.  They have a perfect view of the kitchen from that vantage point and can see everything that’s going on in the kitchen. Our clientele are pretty hardcore when it comes to chocolate, since they have to search us out on the second floor of this big maze of a building. There’s always a delicious smell of chocolate and caramel lingering in the air, so that does help in finding us.

Chocolate varieties: In terms of bonbons and truffles, we have about 45-50 flavors of which 30 would be considered our stable base and are made throughout the year. The remaining chocolates float in and out based on the season and what we’re in the mood to make and/or try. We love trying out new flavors and wish we had more time to develop them! Our other line of products have also continued to expand and we have a menu of about 25 or so items with a few extra that are holiday or seasonal only. These would include filled bars, solid bars, caramels, pecan cluster, toffee, etc.

What brands of chocolate do you use? Valrhona, Michel Cluizel, E. Guittard, Taza Chocolate, and Cacao Barry.

Signature chocolate: We don’t have a signature chocolate per se, but our salted caramel bonbon has been very popular every since it was mentioned in The New York Times as a “Best in the Box” in 2013.

Most unique piece: The Ancho Bar is a balancing act of spice, smoke, heat, crunch, sweet and salt. This bar originated as a pretzel rod surrounded by caramel and roasted nuts and then dipped in chocolate. It has become a confection bar filled with a 12-year-old Balvenie Scotch ancho caramel, roasted spiced nuts and pretzels, which is hand cut and dipped in dark chocolate and finished off with milk chocolate.Personal favorite: It’s hard to choose a favorite since all the products we develop are actually for our own personal enjoyment. Catharine has a soft spot for the Coconutty Bar – growing up, she was such a fan of Almond Joys that she was determined to fill her cupboards with them when she finally moved in to her own apartment. For Elaine, it really depends on the day, but she can be found not infrequently hovering over the left over bits of the rochers. It is one of the first confections we developed and is a amazing combination of caramelized cornflakes, pan candied salted almonds, and a dark milk chocolate that we blend with a variety of chocolates. Our staff call it the “Breakfast of Champions”.

Personal quote: “You can’t rush chocolate.” 

 

 


Oliver Kita

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Oliver KitaOliver Kita Chocolates

18 West Market Street, Rhinebeck, NY 12572
845-876-2665 • www.oliverkita.com
Twitter: @oliverkita

 

Chocolate philosophy: Chocolate is an experience of daily pleasure to be appreciated every day.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier: The Woodstock Chocolate Buddha – my signature chocolate creation inspired the decision.  Originally the Woodstock Chocolate Buddha was being made for me by another chocolatier.  I wanted to learn how do this better than what they were producing for my café.  I am artistic and have enjoyed creating with inedible art materials most of my life, so it was a natural decision to learn how to work with edible art.  I sold my successful café after 10 years, traveled, studied, and trained to become a chocolatier in two Paris schools. Being a chocolatier inspires me every day in some artistic way, whether imagining and testing flavor profiles, designing packaging, developing seasonal presentations for sales, or working on production for the chocolate studio.

Business profile: I describe my retail space as a chocolate studio instead of a factory or shop, because visitors can actually see the creations being made in real time.  It’s an 1850 firehouse next door to one of the oldest inns in America. There’s now a window arch originally where the doors opened to allow the horses and water wagon to pull out onto the street when the bell rang for a fire call.  I’ve designed the studio to look like a fine chocolate boutique in Europe or Paris.  Antique chandeliers, vintage chocolate cases, a circular chocolate counter with seating, and lots of brick line the walls to a 20-foot ceiling. The floors are rough wood planks original to the firehouse. Rhinebeck is the epicurian center of the Hudson Valley, located two hours north of New York City.  It’s known for its historical locations, agricultural estates, and farm-to-table restaurants. The Culinary Institute of America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Museum, and Walk Way Over the Hudson are within 15 minutes of my location.Visitors from all over the United States, Europe and Canada come to the area along with the local population that live in the town and village. The name, Oliver Kita, is my brand, and my signature “O” logo represents that quality brand of beauty and exceptional taste and design. All of the packaging reflects this brand with upscale luxurious boxes, ribbons, wrappers and cross-related marketing and packaging materials.

Chocolate varieties: I purposely decided to make four styles of bonbons to create an exciting presentation:

  • reverse hand-painted molds
  • truffles
  • enrobed ganaches with décor
  • cocoa butter transfer sheets

We create 30 flavors of bonbons that are on display daily. Every season introduces four to six specific flavors for that season or related holiday. There are also collections featured on the website that spring from the idea of an Ayer Vedic taste with the bonbons grouped together as the realization of the suggested mood:

  • Rejuvenating collection made with coffee and tea flavors
  • Inspiring Collection with prohibition cocktail favorites
  • Soothing Collection- chewy caramels and crunchy textures
  • Satisfying Collection- fruits and nuts

There are molded fashion shoe shapes and spiritual shapes – such as the Woodstock Chocolate Buddha and the Virgin Mary. We also make the Hudson Valley Natural Bars in seven flavors along with specialty bars in seasonal or trendy flavors, such as Pecan Maple Sugar Praline with Sea Salt, Pumpkin with Toffee, Flower Bomb (candied roses, violets & jasmine), Breakfast in Bed (granola, yogurt fruit, bacon bits), Japanese Mermaid (seaweed).

Chocolate brands: Split: Guittard 80% of the time (organic dark 66% & 72% , organic milk 38%, satin blanc) and Valrhona (Madacascar, Ecuador, Venezuela) 20%. I was raised and trained on Valrhona, and have a strong fondness for the company philosophy and the branding. These days I am primarily working with Guittard because there have an excellent organic flavor profile along with really exciting couvertures from Hawaii, Columbia and South America.

Signature chocolate: The Woodstock Chocolate Buddha.

Most unique piece: The Great Estates Collection— a taste tour of Hudson Valley using ingredients from local farms. It contains a map of the estates and their related flavor names.

Personal favorite: Truly? It’s the Virgin Mary! So many people said to me, “You shouldn’t do that— make the Virgin Mary out of chocolate.”  But I thought otherwise—to me, the Virgin Mary is an empowering iconic message of love. On the first day of casting the Mary, my marketing person was questioning everything about the integrity and good taste of the idea, really pushing the suggestion that it would be offensive to some people. As this conversation was happening, three nuns came into the chocolate studio, and each sister purchased a Mary. That was all the confirmation I needed to keep on making the Virgin Mary. Oh, and by the way…I don’t have the marketing person on my team any longer.

Personal quote: “Fine chocolate, like fine perfume, is an experience to appreciated every day. Mind - Body - Chocolate Every Day.”

 

 


Slawomir Piotr Korczak

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Slawomir Piotr KorczakPolska European Bakery & Chocolate

Owner: Slawomir Piotr Korczak
Cordillera Himalaya 319, San Luis Potosi, Mexico 78216
(0052) 14448252051
Facebook: PolskaBakery
Twitter: @PolskaBakery

 

Chocolate philosophy: Chocolate is a unique and delicate ingredient. It is very important to know the profile of each chocolate you intend to use, allowing you to balance the recipe and achieve amazing results.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? The smell of the chocolate laboratory always caught my attention and curiosity. Knowing about the process and people involved in it makes it so unique. I started to work with chocolate about 15 years ago, and it is so amazing that every day you can still learn new things about it. Chocolate is such a diverse product, allowing you to make so many creations, starting from a simple chocolate bar and finishing with stunning showpieces. It is very interesting to see how you can gather people around a table enjoying a chocolate dessert, bonbons or even hot chocolate, and see their happy faces of enjoyment.

How long has your shop been in business? I remember when I arrived in Mexico for the first time almost 13 years ago, and right away set up my little chocolate laboratory at home. I started to sell bonbons to family and friends. After a few years I opened my small chocolate boutique. Recently we expanded the business to the European Bakery and Chocolate Boutique, where you can enjoy a vast variety of products.

Business profile: My shop is located in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. We sell a variety of chocolate confections as well as pastry and bread. Our brand is Polska European Bakery & Chocolate. Polska, meaning Poland, represents my roots – the place I come from.

Shop decoration has some delicate antique furniture as well as some modern touches which makes a very cozy environment. The packaging we use has white, black and red coloring so it looks elegant and enhances the presentation of our confections. Our laboratories are separated with glass windows so clients can see what we are doing, which gives them more confidence and curiosity. We have clients from all over the world as our products are authentically European.

Chocolate varieties: We have around 25 flavors of bonbons and truffles. We also craft specially personalized products for hotels and restaurants. We make nougat, pâte de fruit, caramels and confitures, depending on the season.

Chocolate brands: Mostly we use Cacao Barry and Callebaut. Recently we added my own blend that I created at Or Noir laboratory in France. It is a dark chocolate called Smak, which has a very fruity taste and long lasting cacao flavor. Cacao Barry offers so many different origins of chocolate, though, which allows me to create perfect combinations.

Signature chocolate: Mango and Lime Caramel-Passion Fruit Ganache and Caramelized Macadamia Crunch. This was my creation for the World Chocolate Masters Latin America edition 2014, which won the ‘Best Bonbon’ award.

Most unique piece: 4 Chiles Bonbon. Is a combination of smoked and dry chiles that makes such a unique creation.

Personal favorite: Mango and Passion Fruit Bonbon. I come from a country where these products were not available when I lived there. Now in Mexico I can get them from the local farmers.

Personal quote: “Never give up and do not accept defeat.”

 

 


Daniel Sklaar

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Daniel SklaarFINE & RAW

288 Seigel Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206
718-366-3633 • www.fineandraw.com

 

Chocolate philosophy: Chocolate is a celebration.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? I’ve been obsessed with chocolate my entire life. When I became a chef I wanted to throw chocolate in everything…. So, when you’re adding chocolate to salads you just have to stop and acknowledge what’s going through your mind. I suppose it was the creative possibilities that inspired me.

Business profile: FINE & RAW is in warehouse space in an industrial area in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Originally, the space was a parking lot and it got converted several years ago. Artists and creative types populate the neighborhood. We have a lot of people coming in from all over to visit us, too. The shop and factory are open plan and separated by glass so you can see the manufacturing from the shop. We have a rotating list of local artists exhibiting their work on the walls. Obviously the space smells incredible and is visually stimulating with brick walls and high warehouse ceilings, too. The packaging is designed with a classic minimalist look. Well, add a splash of tongue-in-cheek and that’s more of an accurate description. The designs also pay homage to how handmade our process and approach is. You’ll see everything from floral designs to pin-ups. The products range from bonbons to bars to hot chocolate to chocolate hazelnut spread.

Chocolate varieties: We have about 40 if you count the different truffle flavors. We do seasonal truffles during December and for Valentine’s Day. The flavors change each year.

Signature chocolate: Sea Salt Chocolate Bar and Coconut Chunky.

Most unique piece: Our Coconut Dulce de Leche Spread. I just haven’t seen anything like this anywhere. Its base is a coconut butter which we make in-house. It’s next level!

Personal favorite: Right now I’m obsessed with our Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. It’s dangerous. I also really obsess over the current product I’m developing and this is it.

Personal quote: “Be wild and precious.”


Santosh Tiptur

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Santosh
TipturCo Co. Sala

Owners: Nisha Sidhu & Bharet Malhotra
929 F Street NW, Washington D.C. 20004
202-347-4265 • www.cocosala.com
Twitter: @cocosala

 

Chocolate philosophy: My passion is chocolate! For centuries chocolate has been known as the food of gods. I believe in fulfilling the very aspect of this supreme ingredient available to us by using the finest and rarest chocolates from around the world. I am dedicated to creating exquisite bites that are both memorable and gratifying.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? Growing up in India, the first chocolate I tasted was Cadbury’s chocolate éclairs candy. I was my mom’s little helper and that was my reward. Although the options were limited, I began to explore and taste different chocolate candy bars. As I developed a more sophisticated palate, I began to wonder how I could make those heavenly delights on my own. On my first job as a pastry cook, I was lucky enough to work with a Swiss pastry chef who, hands-down, was one of the best chefs I have worked with to date. He was extremely talented and his knowledge and passion for chocolate inspired me to become a chocolatier.

Business profile: Co Co. Sala is Washington D.C.’s award-winning ‘Chocolate Restaurant, Lounge & Boutique,’ inviting you to experience chocolate, coffee, and cocktails in a tantalizing new way! Our restaurant and lounge feature dramatic wave walls that emulate flowing chocolate while defining intimate seating areas where brunch, dinner, multi-course desserts, and late-night dining are served. Two glimmering bars serve as the perfect backdrop for the sumptuous chocolate within and at night transform into a provocative atmosphere where tantalizing cocktails are served. Specializing in cuisine with global flavors, espresso and chocolate-based drinks, artisanal chocolates, and exquisite desserts, patrons can also satisfy cravings of the salty and savory variety with dishes incorporating chocolate and coffee in surprisingly unique mediums. Our chocolate boutiques in Union Market and Penn Quarter, D.C. feature artisanal chocolates beautifully presented in our award-winning packaging along with other chocolate indulgences such as the popular Chocolate Enrobed Bacon and Hot Co Co. Pops. The unique collection of artisanal chocolates includes intriguing flavors such as Banana Ginger, Rosemary Caramel, Chipotle, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Mango Lassi, and many more. All chocolates are made in-house using the finest ingredients such as Valrhona couverture without any preservatives or additives. Our website, cocosala.com, offers online sales for both local and non-local customers. In addition, we create one-of-a-kind customized artisanal chocolates, bars, and sculptures. Co Co. Sala has had the honor of being featured on numerous networks and publications such as the Food Network, Bravo TV, CNN, NBC, CBS, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Washingtonian Magazine, Plate Magazine and Dessert Professional.  In addition to the restaurant and boutiques, Co Co. Sala is also a wholesale chocolatier for various hotels and organizations such as The Inn at Little Washington, The Paramount in NYC, The Ritz Carlton, The Donovan House, The Mandarin Oriental, Good Stuff Eatery, The Jefferson Hotel, Kimpton Hotels, Hotel Monaco, AKA White House, Palomar Hotel, Omni Shoreham, Hilton Worldwide, and MGM, to name a few.  At Co Co. Sala each exquisite bite is a story, some dark, some sweet, a story that begins with passion and ends in pleasure.

Chocolate varieties: We have over 24 different artisanal chocolates and also a variety of other products such as bars, caramels, barks, and unique items such our Hot Co Co. Pops and Chocolate Enrobed Bacon. All in all, we have a selection of over 90 items, including seasonal ones.

Chocolate brands: We use Valrhona, Cocoa Barry and Felchlin.

Signature chocolate: Mango Lassi Bonbon.

Most unique piece: Rosemary Salted Caramel with Dark Chocolate Shell.

Personal favorite: My personal favorite is our White Tip Earl Grey Tea Bonbon. It features one of the best Earl Grey teas with 64% Manjari dark chocolate from Valrhona. The balance of the sweetness, acidity, and bitterness with the perfume of the Earl Grey is just a miraculous combination. I can snack on those any time of the day.

Personal quote: “My secret to good cooking is like making a good friend, complex yet straightforward. One who makes the effort to understand and value the distinct nature of each ingredient, can combine them to create magic…especially when one of the ingredients is chocolate!”

 

 


Christophe Toury

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Christophe TouryVoilá Chocolat

Owner: Peter Moustakerski
221 West 79th Street, New York, NY 10024
212-920-8799 • www.voila-chocolat.com
Twitter: @ctoury

 

Chocolate philosophy: Chocolate is pretty much a live product where a chef needs to immerse him or herself in its technical aspect in order to master all the specs and innovative forms that it has to offer. My biggest philosophy is that a recipe is not set in stone and can constantly be improved in order to find the best texture, balance and flavor.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? I started my career as a pastry chef at a very young age in France where I was exposed and worked with the best in the industry (MOF’s) at that time. Andre Renard was my mentor and inspired me to take my artistry to the highest level by discipline and by respecting this noble ingredient. I always had a love for chocolate and admired all the endless possibilities that could be executed.

Business profile: Voilá Chocolat is a very unique concept/experience located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The client is educated on the history, origin and process of the chocolate in a beautiful, classy setting that has a refined touch of wood everywhere you look. Clients participate in making their own truffles, bark, lollipops or 3-D molds, and we provide them with eco-friendly packaging to box their goods to take home. Our clients range from an early young age of three to adults in their 80’s. This concept can assist with team building, networking, birthdays, anniversarys and bachelorette parties, with guests sipping on a glass of wine, Champagne or beer as they participate.

Chocolate varieties: We have 12 to 16 truffle varieties and four to five seasonal chocolates.

Chocolate brand: Guittard Chocolate.

Signature chocolates: Speculoos Cookie Spice, Mojito, and Figs & Cassis.

Most unique piece: Fig & Cassis is the most unique at the moment. It’s like a Kir Royale that melts in your mouth with a slight crunch.

Personal favorite: I love Mojito or anything lime-based, because citrus just happens to pair well with chocolate. In creating this piece, I wanted the consumer to feel as if they were experiencing the drink. Many of my more creative inspirations come from mixology.

Personal quote: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

 

 


Adam S. Turoni

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Adam S. TuroniChocolat by Adam Turoni

Two locations: 323 W. Broughton Street, Savannah, GA 31401 and 236 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401
912-335-2914 • www.chocolatat.com
Online store: www.etsy.com/shop/ChocolatbyAdamTuroni
Facebook: Chocolat-by-Adam-Turoni
Twitter: @chocolatbyadamt
Instagram: @chocolatbyadamturoni

 

Chocolate philosophy: My philosophy is to tell a story through flavors. Creating everything in-house enables me to keep complete control and manipulate any of the ingredients to recreate, to explore, to achieve new techniques, and most importantly, discover different ways of telling new stories. Of course, it means keeping a stricter discipline and almost an obsessive dedication. To achieve this, I am always experimenting with the best pairing of the different chocolate percentages and origins that are available with my original recipes to maximize their inherit properties. When making my confections, I strive to use traditional techniques but with a non-traditional, whimsical, updated approach.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? My original “plan” was to be a pastry chef. I never realized you could be a chocolatier. I discovered that working with chocolate was unlike any other medium I was used to. The monotony, the meticulous, almost meditative state I experience when working with chocolate inspires me, and, I discovered, came naturally to me. I saw a place that I could take my love for pastry, the beauty of plated desserts, of cake decorating and the baking techniques I knew for so many years, and channeled it all to create pastry-like chocolate confections. That sets me apart from others in my field. To me, that’s the definition of inspiration.

Business profile: Chocolat by Adam Turoni is a whimsical, luxurious place that exists in its own world, where Marie Antoinette-meets-Alice-in-Wonderland. It beckons our guests to get immersed in the story we are telling with the flavors and look of each truffle. My stores are located in the beautiful southern city of Savannah, Georgia. It is full of hundred-year-old oak trees, laden in moss, surrounded by marsh lands, with a Euro-southern architecture that draws crowds of people year after year to visit.  It is a city of tours. Cemetery tours, square tours, house tours and more.  Savannah is known and cherished for its hospitality and the eccentricity that makes it unique. Our first store (323 W. Broughton St.) is designed as a chocolate dining room. Guest arrive to find themselves in the midst of an Alice in Wonderland chocolate tea party. Our French banquet table is laden with our packaged items, inviting you to join the revelry. The individual chocolate truffles are on display in a floor-to-ceiling, grand breakfront, among bone china and Limoges teapots and a buffet table, awaiting the discovery in its drawers not of sterling silver flatware, but our gold-leafed lion head almond bark medallions and our golden Baileys truffles. We invite our guests to take a silver tray and explore the china cabinet and discover all the chocolate truffles within. The second store (236 Bull St.) is designed as a chocolate library. The chocolate truffles are catalogued in bookcases among encyclopedias, novels and art walls. Each section is organized in alphabetical order, marked at the beginning of each book shelf row with antique brass plates. As in the dining room, our guests use custom-made card catalogue drawer wooden trays to place their selections as they explore the catalogue of offering around the library. Each store has its own kitchen, open to view to our guests, so that they may watch me (and my chocolatier assistants) as we make everything in each store.

Chocolate varieties: Over 20 truffle varieties make up our signature collection in addition to four or five seasonal truffles. They range from the traditional milk and dark Peanut Butter Cups topped with sea salt to our airbrushed Habanero Caramels, hand-piped Red Velvet Cake Truffle and our bruleed-to-order Crème Brûlée Truffle. Our package line consists of over 30 items plus seasonal offerings, including our Honeycomb Chocolate Bar, our custom-made Keyhole Chocolate Bar, our Florentine Cookies with candied orange or lemon peels, our Bacon Butter Pecan Toffee, Hazelnut Dragees and Chinoiserie Jasmine Coconut Moon Pies.

What brands of chocolate do you use? Guittard, Felchin and Cacao Barry.

Signature chocolate: By far, it’s our Savannah Bee chocolate bar, a 72% dark chocolate bar filled with a liquid wildflower honey center (locally sourced from Savannah Bee Company) and finished in a gold luster.

Most unique piece: The Midnight Cherry Eclipse – 88% Maraciabo single-origin dark chocolate shell, finished with George Melies 1890’s quintessential moon, printed on a smoked wafer paper, topped with locally grown hand crystallized flowered tarragon, and a Luxardo cherry on a 88% dark chocolate melt-away center.

Personal favorite: The Versailles Pistachio Topiary – a white chocolate pistachio gianduja coated in a dehydrated matcha genoise crumb, “potted” in a white chocolate planter and finished with dark chocolate hand-piped finials. In 2014, the Savannah Downtown Garden Club presented the opportunity for me to create a truffle to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the club’s inception. This truffle is the definition of all the things that inspire me, challenge me and help me grow in this industry. I wanted to incorporate a garden theme, but in a way that reflects my philosophy about chocolate and my brand.  What would represent more clearly the ethos of a garden, if not the famous square garden planters from Versailles? It was an instant favorite that we have carried as part of our line ever since.

 

 


Susanna Yoon

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Susanna YoonStick With Me

Owner: Susanna Yoon
202A Mott St., New York, NY 10012
646-918-6336 • www.swmsweets.com
Twitter: @swmsweets
Instagram: @swmsweets

 

Chocolate philosophy: Tasting good chocolate should be nothing less than a truly blissful experience— a moment where you stop and permit yourself to savor the detail, flavor, and aesthetic behind each bite. Creating bliss in a single bonbon is hard. It is an art of patience and discovery along every step of the process from perfectly tempering the chocolate to hand-painting each design. It makes me so happy when people stop by our store for a bite and they leave with huge smiles on their faces. It’s the most rewarding feeling to see customers genuinely delighted.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier? Quite simply: I love making chocolate. I am particularly inspired by being able to give each of our products its own unique personality through our diverse range of flavors and designs. Our chocolates often resonate with our guests and on a personal level. I love that our products can become part of someone’s gifting experience in a way where they can truly say- this made me think of you.

Business profile: We have a beautiful store in Nolita, just a few streets from Soho, but also ship internationally. Our kitchen is right in the store so you will often see me making our chocolates through the glass window. All of our packaging is custom designed for our bonbons and is centered around the theme of book covers. We believe each chocolate has a story to tell and our guests often keep these elegant books displayed on their shelves. We sell hand-shelled bonbons along with a selection of toffees, brittles, truffles, caramels, cakes, nut butters, and other sweet confections. Our guests come from all over the world to treat themselves or to bring memorable presents back to loved ones. Local New Yorkers love us too – a lot of our guests stop by regularly for their daily chocolate fix and to say hello. I think a few of them see our shop as a bit of an art gallery featuring tiny chocolate canvases and are always eager to watch our designs evolve.

Chocolate varieties: We sell 24 hand-shelled bonbons ranging from sea salt caramel to wild strawberry. We have seasonal chocolates crafted for every holiday!

Chocolate brands: We use several varietals of Valrhona chocolate today, but are also looking to explore other brands of chocolate from bean-to-bar in the near future. We are always on the hunt to find and refine the best ingredients.

Signature chocolate: Our bonbon collection is our signature product line. They make beautiful gifts and the broad menu of flavors means there is something for everyone.

Most unique piece: The Kalamansi Meringue Pie. It’s topped with a white meringue, layered with a kalamansi custard, and then based with a graham cracker crust. Kalamansi is a delicate citrus from Southeast Asia – much like lime but with a more nuanced flavor. This bonbon has all the best components of a pie all packed into a little bonbon. It’s a favorite of many of our regulars looking to venture beyond the traditional palate.

Personal favorite: My personal favorite changes depending on my mood or cravings in the moment. However, currently it is the Pumpkin Cheesecake bonbon. It tastes like home and a warm fire.

Personal quote: “Love is in the details.”

 

 


2015 Hall of Fame Inductee:

Norman Love

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Norman LoveFounder, Norman Love Confections

 

Norman Love is the first inductee to our Chocolatier Hall of Fame. He began his dessert career as a teenager making ice cream at a scoop shop in South Florida. His love for chocolate inspired him to become a chocolatier. After learning the craft and art of pastry in France, Norman served as the Executive Pastry Chef for many luxury resorts, including The Beverly Hills Hotel. His career blossomed when he ascended to the become Corporate Executive Pastry Chef for the Ritz-Carlton chain of hotels where he oversaw global pastry and baking operations and opened 30 international and domestic hotel and resort pastry kitchens.

In 1996 Norman was one of the 18 chefs chosen to make a birthday cake at the 150th Smithsonian Anniversary Celebration in Washington, D.C., and one of only 26 selected to appear on the 39-part PBS series Baking with Julia. In 1999, he led Team USA to a bronze medal at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie competition (World Cup of Pastry) in Lyons, France.

Norman is a pioneer in the ultra-premium chocolate segment, and he created the ground-breaking G Collection for Godiva. An adventurous flair, love of the avant garde, and a penchant for perfection are his hallmarks. In 2001, the culinary virtuoso left the corporate world to found Norman Love Confections in Fort Myers, Florida. A decade later, he opened a second Chocolate Salon in Naples, Florida. And in 2012, Artisan Gelato by Norman Love opened next to the Chocolate Salon in Fort Myers. In 2013, Norman served as a President of the Jury at The World Chocolate Masters in Paris, France.

Norman is now sharing his enormous success by mentoring and training new generations of dessert professionals in the relentless pursuit of innovation, excellence and quality.

 

 


 

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