CONFECTING PER­FEC­TION

In an exclusive in­ter­view with QatarToday, choco­late chef Jean Galler pro­vides an in­sight into the con­fec­tionery mar­ket of the coun­try.

Qatar Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE - BY KHADIZA BEGUM

Choco­late chef Jean Galler pro­vides an in­sight into the con­fec­tionery mar­ket of the coun­try.

“IT IS FAIR TO SAY THAT DOHA TRULY IS A ‘CHOCO­LATE CAP­I­TAL'. THE CON­SUMERS IN QATAR ARE ED­U­CATED IN QUAL­ITY AND ARE VERY DIS­CERN­ING.”

At the young age of 16, Jean Galler knew that choco­late would be­come his en­dur­ing pas­sion. As he pro­gressed along the path­way to­wards be­com­ing a mas­ter con­fec­tioner, he trained un­der top con­fec­tionery tu­tors in Basel, Switzer­land, and at Gas­ton Lenôtre in Paris, France. His youth­ful am­bi­tion was matched only by his ded­i­ca­tion to what would be­come, for him, an art form that would de­mand cre­ative imag­i­na­tion, skill and dex­ter­ity.

The young choco­late chef soon dis­cov­ered that he pos­sessed a flair for in­no­va­tion and this, cou­pled with his youth­ful en­thu­si­asm and a will­ing­ness to adapt, change and learn en­abled him to bring his own unique style to the world of Bel­gian choco­late. In 1974 he was elected the "best bak­ery/pas­try chef ap­pren­tice in Bel­gium" – a re­mark­able ac­co­lade, but his con­fec­tionery ad­ven­ture truly be­gan in 1976 when he founded his very own choco­late work­shop in his home city of Liège, Bel­gium. This gave him his own space within which to work his own par­tic­u­lar brand of con­fec­tionery and en­tre­pre­neur­ial suc­cess.

Galler Qatar

The iconic Bel­gian choco­latier re­cently opened their first boutique and tea room in the GCC in Mall of Qatar, the coun­try's sig­na­ture re­tail mall, writ­ing the lat­est chap­ter in the brand's suc­cess­ful his­tory by pro­vid­ing the coun­try's first truly world-class venue for gourmet choco­late afi­ciona­dos. Galler says that Qatar, like so many other coun­tries in the re­gion, has an affin­ity with choco­late and that Doha is home to a wide va­ri­ety of choco­late shops.

He adds: “It is fair to say that Doha truly is a ‘choco­late cap­i­tal'. The con­sumers in Qatar are ed­u­cated in qual­ity and are very dis­cern­ing. They are more re­cep­tive to high-end in­ter­na­tional choco­lates, such as Galler for in­stance, be­cause we pro­duce top-qual­ity Bel­gian choco­late and of­fer the full taste ex­pe­ri­ence through a col­lec­tion of exclusive ar­ti­san recipes in orig­i­nal shapes and eye-catch­ing colours.

“Since 1974 we have also be­come a brand renowned as a sym­bol of high-qual­ity choco­late, pri­mar­ily be­cause our prod­ucts are made with­out preser­va­tives – with only co­coa but­ter and no other veg­etable oil.”

Upon vis­it­ing the Galler Qatar boutique it be­comes quite ob­vi­ous that the choco­lates are works of art in them­selves. The colour­ful con­fec­tions are dis­played in a way that en­cap­su­lates the founder's pas­sion for unique style and artis­tic achieve­ment.

‘Happy’ choco­late

Over the past twenty years food con­sumers have gained vast knowl­edge re­gard­ing the ori­gins and sources of the in­gre­di­ents in their food, and this dis­cern­ment is par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent in the world of choco­late. Cus­tomers are in­creas­ingly select­ing prod­ucts where style is ac­com­pa­nied by sub­stance. The use of or­ganic in­gre­di­ents, of­ten lo­cally sourced and sea­son­ally se­lected, is key to the suc­cess of mas­ter cho­co­latiers like Galler, who pride them­selves on us­ing only the best qual­ity in­gre­di­ents to pro­duce the ul­ti­mate in ar­ti­san hand­crafted con­fec­tionery cre­ations. Through con­stant re­search, Galler is al­ways ex­am­in­ing the lat­est in­dus­try trends and cus­tomer needs.

“De­mand for dark choco­late is cur­rently on the rise, per­haps be­cause its con­sump­tion makes peo­ple feel less guilty, and also be­cause of the proven health ben­e­fits of small amounts of dark choco­late. How­ever, that rise in de­mand con­versely in­creases de­mand for and con­sump­tion of milk and white choco­late, be­cause they re­main prod­ucts of in­dul­gence.”

Galler adds: “More broadly, we are ob­serv­ing sev­eral dif­fer­ent con­sump­tion trends de­vel­op­ing in the Qatar mar­ket com­pared with the rest of the world. For in­stance, a sense of ‘the nat­u­ral' cou­pled with nostal­gia or go­ing ‘back to their roots' has re­sulted in the ex­pres­sion by cus­tomers of a de­sire to re­con­nect with more ‘real'

“DE­MAND FOR DARK CHOCO­LATE IS CUR­RENTLY ON THE RISE, PER­HAPS BE­CAUSE ITS CON­SUMP­TION MAKES PEO­PLE FEEL LESS GUILTY.”

tastes. So the pu­rity of in­gre­di­ents – their or­ganic cre­den­tials – has be­come vi­tal to con­sumers who want a more nat­u­ral prod­uct cre­ated in a sus­tain­able way.”

Galler be­lieves that peo­ple in­creas­ingly want to know what they eat and are more con­scious and se­lec­tive re­gard­ing choco­late prod­ucts whilst still crav­ing lux­ury and in­dul­gence. “The trend of ‘happy' choco­late (less su­gar, less fat, re­duced calo­ries) con­cern­ing mostly dark choco­late re­mains niche be­cause it con­tra­dicts the pri­mary driver of the mar­ket – in­dul­gence.”

In­no­va­tion is key

In­no­va­tion is key to de­liv­er­ing rel­e­vant, com­pelling con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ences as well as build­ing a fast-grow­ing firm in an old­fash­ioned mar­ket. Con­sumers are hun­gry for new prod­ucts, ser­vices and ex­pe­ri­ences, so in­no­va­tion is seen as be­ing a vi­tal prac­tice at Galler, whether through the cre­ation of a whole new form of choco­late or de­vel­op­ing a new way to pro­duce it.

“In­no­va­tion has al­ways been a pri­or­ity and pri­mary fo­cus for Galler. We are con­tin­u­ally refin­ing ex­ist­ing recipes to of­fer new and real ex­pe­ri­ences in taste and tex­ture, de­vel­op­ing dif­fer­ent flavours and con­stantly seek­ing to in­no­vate in re­spect of the DNA of the brand. We keep in touch with pi­o­neer­ing trends in mar­ket­ing, con­sumer R&D and eth­i­cally pro­duced, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly pack­ag­ing.”

He fur­ther says: “You must lis­ten to the mar­ket and give peo­ple what they want. Galler is con­fi­dent of re­tain­ing a good share in the Qatari mar­ket, which is very com­pet­i­tive. How­ever, by re­main­ing co­her­ent and true to the nat­u­ral iden­tity and val­ues of the brand, we will be well po­si­tioned to stay ahead of the curve.”

Be sweet

Jean Galler draws strength from his val­ues: a pas­sion for choco­late, a con­tin­u­ing ap­petite for cre­ativ­ity, and pure per­fec­tion­ism, and even af­ter forty years in the pro­fes­sion, he re­mains true to these val­ues. Galler con­cludes with some tips for those who would like to start their jour­ney in the choco­late busi­ness:

“First, you must have a real pas­sion for choco­late, and se­cond, you must ac­quire the re­sources to make suc­cess pos­si­ble. Fi­nally, ac­cu­rate mar­ket anal­y­sis, con­stant adap­ta­tions of your prod­ucts, and a fo­cus on trusted part­ners, prod­uct providers, and most im­por­tantly, trusted em­ploy­ees are key.”

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