Chocolate –Resistance is Futile.
According to everyone, the world’s favourite food is chocolate. Take a bite. Close your eyes and feel the delicious nuances spread in slow and sweet waves. Taste, combined with smell, produces the flavours that travel directly to the parts of the brain that are connected with sensory perception. Dark, milk or white, as it slowly melts on the tongue, our brain says mmmm.
The circle of perfection begins in the cocoa farms of East and West Africa, South America, the Caribbean and many more regions. It is a process that combines the nurturing of nature with humanity, education and passion, and succeeds in creating the best possible product, reaching 100 percent sustainable chocolate in the cocoa farms since 2005.
In my quest to taste the world’s finest foods at source, I arrive at the Chocolate Academy Canada in time to attend a demonstration and technical class, “Cremeries 101,” delivered by Philippe Vancayseele, Technical Director and Master Chocolatier. “It makes me extremely happy,” says Philippe, “to share the experiences and knowledge I’ve gained in more than 70 countries, and pass it along to people who appreciate knowing the correct procedures.”
Twenty five professionals and retailers in the ice cream industry are here to learn how to melt pure chocolate to a silky texture and dip ice cream into it, so that it hardens smoothly. And no less important, how to add gold, dark chocolate or coloured sprinkles. Philippe stirs the chocolate and adds some cocoa butter as he answers questions about preparation and storage. He says, “everyone is happy when they are eating chocolate.” There is a “Eureka!” moment in the room, as these “students” learn exactly how to execute a complex procedure. Most ice cream chains add paraffin to get the right viscosity, but for the legal description, “covered with real chocolate” only cocoa butter is allowed. I can honestly say that this is the first “real chocolate” covered ice cream cone I have ever tasted. The flavour is explosive— and at the risk of showing bad manners—i must have another.
We are in a state-of-the-art, tiered classroom with a large screen behind the work station. The mandate of this vast facility is to educate the industry on the correct way to handle this delicate deliciousness of Cacao Barry and Callebaut chocolates and present it to the discerning consumer in its most delectable form. These classes enable professionals and artisans to learn things about handling chocolate they hadn’t dreamed of, how to delight their clients with new trends and also avoid costly errors. Chocolate can be tricky.
The Academy offers a calendar of classes over the year in Montreal and in Toronto, taught by guest chefs, technical advisors and some of the award-winning, world leaders in chocolate from France, Spain, USA, Tokyo, the Cacao Barry and Callebaut Ambassadors. They offer one-day classes, two- and three-day Master Classes; as well as classes in Contemporary Bonbons and Dessert Bars with a Long Shelf Life; Patisserie Sans Gluten; Trendsetting Desserts and Pastries, and many more. Reflecting the manner in which Cacao Barry and Callebaut nurtures their growers to raise the finest crops, the Academy encourages and teaches wonderful ways in which to use chocolate. Education contributes to sales. The roster of alumni includes chefs across the country who we all know and admire. What an incredible learning opportunity for artisans, home bakers and professionals who want to improve their skills or add chocolate to their culinary repertoire.
Cacao Barry was founded in France by Charles Barry in 1842. In Belgium, Eugenius Callebaut began making chocolate in 1911. It was not until 1996 that a delicious partnership was consummated and the company became Barry Callebaut. Today, their agriculture experts educate and advise the farmers how to grow the best crops, and with their 50 cocoa and chocolate factories around the world, they have become the leading manufacturer of high quality chocolate and cocoa products.