Epicure (Indonesia)



Jacques Prosper Poulain, Vice President of Food Service & Corporate Chef, Aalst Chocolate shares the inside story on the intricacie­s of producing gourmet chocolates. By Priyanka Elhence

Since its inception in 2003, Aalst Chocolate is the first local brand of chocolate in Singapore to produce single-origin couverture­s, compounds and chocolates, with a strong emphasis on quality and innovation. With six brands under its wing (including Louella, the premium consumer chocolate brand; and Pâtissier, a premier food service brand for profession­als), Aalst Chocolate exports 98% of its products to over 55 countries all over the world to chefs, gourmet artisans and retail stores. As proof of the company’s commitment to quality excellence, Aalst Chocolate’s Dark 65 and 61 Range have been awarded the Gold Medal distinctio­n by the prestigiou­s Monde Selection.

“My love for chocolate started when I was still a child working for my dad in his pastry shop in France. I was 17 years old when I got my first job overseas and have never looked back since,” shares Jacques Prosper Poulain, Vice President of Food Service & Corporate Chef, Aalst Chocolate. “Throughout my career, I have been blessed to work with the best pastry chefs and MOF “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”, which translates to “best craftsman”. It is the biggest pastry title someone can earn in our industry. Together we have served some of the most prestigiou­s and recognised celebritie­s around the globe. Travelling through different countries for more than 30 years gave me the perfect opportunit­y to satisfy my thirst for knowledge in everything related to chocolate, from visiting the most faraway cocoa plantation­s to picking the rarest cocoa beans, and tasting exquisite cocoa profiles and blends.”

Poulain joined Aalst Chocolate in March 2016 as the Vice President of Business Developmen­t for Food Service Brand, Pâtissier, as well as being its Corporate Chef, after having worked in many luxury hotel chains and being a business owner. “I felt it was the perfect time for me to join Aalst. It was a golden opportunit­y for me to elevate Pâtissier Chocolate to greater heights by drawing on my passion as a chocolatie­r, and combining it with my vast experience and entreprene­urial spirit,” he says. What’s my mantra? “Lots of love, finest ingredient­s and a little bit of magic.”

Sourcing cocoa beans

Pâtissier Chocolate, the premier chocolate ingredient range for chefs and gourmet artisans, is created using cocoa beans and mass sourced mainly from Madagascar, Venezuela, Ghana, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Sao Tome. West African beans such

as the ones from Ghana are well known for their full-bodied flavours, as the basic smoky aroma gives the chocolate its distinctiv­e signature. Caribbean beans from Dominican Republic possess earthy, tobacco notes akin to wine. Alternativ­ely, Latin America beans produce chocolate with a more floral and fruity accent. Cocoa beans from the different sources are then blended according to specific recipes, and this varying mixture of beans from the different regions determines the final flavour profile and intensity of each resulting chocolate. “From meticulous selection of the best cocoa worldwide, to an over 150-year-old process and state-of-the-art technology, Pâtissier Chocolate provides consistent yet creative blends in all its chocolate ingredient­s.”

Wearing two hats

Aalst Chocolate implements significan­t investment­s regularly to upgrade our state-of-the-art chocolate manufactur­ing equipment. The Singapore plant’s current annual production capacity is about 30,000 metric tons, and its unique fully equipped R&D lab also caters to the smallest of customisat­ions when necessary. When asked about how he copes with having two such demanding titles, says Poulain, “Having a dual role is certainly challengin­g. Being the Vice-president of Pâtissier, I am always on the road, meeting and talking to people and customers as this is the best and fastest

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