The human palate is incredibly subjective and widely variant from person to person — what is a delicacy to one, could full well ruin the appetite of another. However, there is one item that comes close to universal appeal in the inexhaustible list of edibles — chocolates. While most people indulge in the sweet treat, few understand that there is much that goes into its production and a history that predates a century.
Amongst the pioneers of chocolate artisans stand Godiva, which prides itself as a premier maker of exquisite Belgian chocolate since 1926. The confections have long cemented a place in the pinnacle of the chocolate-making industry. Here, we sit down with the chocolatier’s head pastry chef Christophe Garaud to learn more about the chocolate-making process.
KAMES NARAYANAN: How do you think the art of making chocolate has changed over time?
CHRISTOPHE GARAUD: I think what the customer wants and, with it, the market [have] changed over time. It also depends on which part of the world you are talking about. The people do not have the same demands. In general, the demand for chocolates has increased in many places. For instance, in Europe and America, it is very popular. In Japan, it is picking up speed and people desire chocolate more than before. Hence, you have so many companies making chocolate and there are so many different kinds available today.
KN: What is the difference between people’s preferences in Asia as opposed to in Europe?
CG: I think in Europe, people know more about chocolate than the people in Asia. Chocolate is newer in Asia than it is in Europe. In Europe, we have the traditions of Christmas and Easter that involve chocolates and people are more familiar. You have a lot of choices there and people are always trying to create new recipes for chocolate. In Asia, they are just starting to be educated about chocolate. I have observed that they tend to prefer a blend of flavours rather than just sweetness.
KN: Do you think that the essence of the original chocolate has been lost now that we see so many types of chocolates?
CG: I think it is good to explore and create new flavours. We need to have pure, original chocolate but it is also important to have new flavours. It is great for the market as it allows more people to enjoy chocolates when there is a wider variety.
KN: How do you discern a good chocolate from one that is bad?
CG: Usually, you can see it. The texture, if it is not shiny and very matte and if it is soft and oily, you know it is not good chocolate. Chocolate has to look shiny and when you bite into it, the flavours should melt in your mouth.
KN: What is something that you take into consideration when you make chocolate?
CG: The combination of flavour and the type of cacao that is used to make the chocolate. You have cacao that is imported from [different countries], from Vietnam to South America. Each place has a different flavour. The cacao is like wine, the place and the way it is grown are very important.
KN: What do you think is the future of chocolate-making?
CG: I think because the world is always changing, there are many uncertainties. For instance, the places where the cacao is grown might undergo changes and that would affect the supply. In terms of flavour, people often go through phases. For two years, they might want to pair it with fruits or perhaps, prefer coffee with chocolate. It definitely changes and it is hard to pinpoint for sure.
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