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Chocolate: gourmand temptation

Be they connoisseurs or simples amateurs, more and more consumers are declaring themselves “nuts for chocolate”. Faced with these sweet monsters, hoteliers are quick to arm themselves with chocolate. This gourmet and euphoriant product is thus transforming itself into a tempting promotion.

Chocolate is no longer a gourmandise swallowed greedily for pleasure. It is also moment of reflection, of ecstasy that cocoa purists are appreciating in increasing numbers. For these, the chocolate derived from the best beans of Ecuador, Peru, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Papua-New Guinea or Chuao from Venezuela, one of the most sought after, bear no more secrets. Is it because the product made a giant leap in terms of quality in recent years? Is it because consumers are increasingly curious and knowledgeable? The two phenomena combine forces. On the one hand, enlightened amateurs are attending tastingclasses in greater numbers. On the other, suppliers are preparing to constantly raise the range of their products. Valrhona has its Mariages de Grands Crus de Terroir and Mariages de Grands Crus; Barry Callebaut its Origins and Plantations collection.All this raw material stimulates the creations of chocolate and pastry makers who may play to their hearts delight with the organoleptic differences of eachterroir to achieve the best effect. “Depending on their origin, some couverture chocolate is longer in the mouth or more crackly, thus ideal for coating. The qualities and tastes vary enormously between Venezuelan, Peruvian or African productions. But the high level of production on the latter continent does notprevent it from being uniform. We have our own couverture made of beans from Ghana, Togo and Sao Tomé, which is the creamiest and is very well adapted to a mousse,” explains Guy Krenzer, creation director and executive chef at Lenôtre. Récently during a trip to Peru to familiarize himself with production in this country, this professional made the pleasant discovery of notes of toasted fruit, red fruits and tangy candies in the dated harvest from the Alto del Sol plantation. Produced through equitable commerce practices, the quality of this product relies above all on ancestral savoirfaire. “We choose the productsfirst for their quality. In equitable commerce, there are good and bad alike", explains Guy Krenzer.But, while realizations from the greatest harvest with low cocoa butter content appeal to clientele who are enlightened amateurs, professionals do not forget that a large range of clientele is still partial to sweeter pleasures. “We are sensitive to one thing: the originality stops where good flavor begins. We do not hide the gourmandise aspect of a product. Among the innovations, we are offering an old fashioned praline, a chocolate candy with a hint of bitter almond made from Tonka beans, that are subtle and very gourmand, wrapped in a chocolate papillote with a cherry on top.” Proof of its affinity with the world of wine, Olivier Poussier, world’s best sommelier 2000, recommends associating this dessert with a Rivesaltes 74. Another originality: work with a sculptor torealize the cube Exception L7G – as in Lenôtre 7 grams –, a combination of a coffee ganache and dark chocolate.Aware of the euphoriant power of these small dark squares over their clientele, hoteliers are quick to use them as part of their sales pitch. American hoteliersdrive their guests to the most terrible extremes by organizing “Death by Chocolate” events. Fairmont Palliser in Calgary, Mandarin Oriental and Ritz Carlton in Washington and others all offer their guests heavenly buffets designed to transport them… to heaven. Chocolate’s power of attraction is such that may become the core of specific products. For two years, between the beginning of November and the end of January, when the cold becomes piercing and the need to get warm intensifies, Sofiteloffers its “I love Chocolate” package including three nights for the price of two, breakfast and an all-chocolate snack. The Royal Caribbean cruise line, meanwhile, plays on the appeal of all-chocolate breakfasts where waffles, pancakes and milkshakes are offered in profusion. After testing this concept on its new boat Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean expanded this project to its entire fleet.Another example of a “chocolate breakfast,” a tad pricier than the other, may be enjoyed in a Parisian palace. Since September 1, 2009, for 36 euros, guests at the Meurice could savor the breakfast concocted by the triple-starred chef Yannick Alleno in a partnership with the celebrated tearoom on Rue Royale: Ladurée. The Choc’Alléno reinterpreted the great pastry classics – the croissant, the baguette and, of course, the pain au chocolat – by giving them a cocoa flavor. Last winter, a few steps away from this Parisian establishment, at the hotel Westin, the chef barman Philippe Guidi launched the hot chocolate “one in the other”, a hotel chocolate enjoyed with flavored iced water – cinnamon, ginger, lavender and licorice – to stimulate the senses.

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