fine food - Artisan du Chocolat
Written by Craig Butcher
Artisan du Chocolat co-founder, and chocolate-maker to some of the world’s best restaurants, Anne Weyns, talks to Oryx.
Belgian co-founder of Artisan du Chocolat, Anne Weyns, arguably started at the top. In 1999 she and her business partner, chef Gerard Coleman, made some samples and sent them to restaurants.
“One of the first to get back to us was Restaurant Gordon Ramsay [in London],” says Weyns, “which had just opened and had three Michelin stars. The next day we started.”
Since then, they haven’t looked back. They’ve made chocolates for Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck, in Bray, England. They were also at the vanguard of the famous Borough Market in London, back when there were just 10 stalls.
While some chocolatiers use others’ liquid cocoa, Artisan du Chocolat refine their own. “Many places don’t make chocolate – they make chocolates,” says Weyns. “And those places will have a small choice of where to buy their chocolate from. We refine it ourselves, which is very unusual on our small-scale level. We’re able to innovate and do much smaller batches.”
If you haven’t heard of Artisan du Chocolat, don’t be disheartened. “We don’t advertise and rely on word of mouth,” says Weyns.
You may, however, have heard about their sea-salt caramels. Originally a recipe from Brittany in northern France, “we started selling them in the shop and it was almost overnight that it went crazy,” says Weyns. “We use a salt from Brittany that’s been left to dry, there’s no processing, it’s just full of vitamins and minerals.”
The caramels resulted from a commission from Gordon Ramsay for his flagship restaurant in London, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. “The brief … was simply that they needed to be round. We thought the contrast of liquid inside would give a different texture.”
It’s a joviality and willingness to try new things that has partly given rise to their success. “I like to think we are the Paul Smith of chocolate,” says Weyns. “It’s very serious, very technical, but there’s a quirky side to what we do. We use new technologies to achieve the results that we’re after. Innovating on flavour alone is very difficult, since it can be easily copied. So we look at technical ways to create a different sensation.”
Artisan du Chocolat is now available in the Middle East, and exclusively at HIA, Marmalade Market.
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