I approached today with a little trepidation, excitement and sadness…I was spending the day with Chef Thierry Muret at the Innovation Centre for Godiva in Brussels. This is the final part of my Godiva prize, and I was (am) a little sad that it’s coming to an end.
After I got over the 4.40am start, I met Chef Thierry in the Grand Place, in the flagship store. Thierry is so knowledgeable about the history of the brand and gave me a history lesson of Brussels and Godiva’s part in the chocolate history of the town
During lunch Chef Thierry spoke about his job as Global Executive Head Chocolatier. I was fascinated about how different regions in the world have different versions of some recipes…taking into account humidity, fondness of sugar, dislike of sour etc…I learned a lot about how UK/European taste is different to China, which is different to Japan which is different to US and about how the chefs develop the recipes for the markets while still keeping the core Godiva look and feel. This was something that I would be keen to learn more of.
After lunch we caught the metro to the main chocolate HQ. Chef didn’t want me missing the tube too much!
I had taken along 4 of my chocolate flavours and 2 sable biscuits for the chefs to try and get some feedback on Chef Jean was in the process of making sables so to say I felt scrutinised was an understatement. Chefs Jean and Ilse stopped what they were doing to join Thierry and myself in the tasting. After each sample Thierry would smile and nod his head…I got some amazing feedback and Thierry said that for him, it was refreshing to see someone become an artisanal chocolatier as my flavours were pure, with no messing of them to increase shelf life. I felt like the Cheshire Cat I was smiling so much.
I was given a rather fetching disposable lab coat and hair net to don, and safety shoes next…there was a lot of hand washing, sanitising, shoe sanitising that went on before being allowed into the chocolate hub. Whilst all this seemed tiresome at the time, there is absolutely no room for contamination in any of the products.
Throughout the day, Thierry gave me little hints and tips that he’d picked up along his career that would make my chocolates look and taste better e.g. adding the vanilla at the start of the caramel would give a lovely woody note, letting the mould set up bottom side up in the fridge would give an angled edge for a cleanrer finish which is what competition judges would look for.
I have always been slightly scared of tempering by slab. I do have a massive piece of granite on my worktop at home but I’m always more successful using the microwave method that I learned from Kirsten Tibbells. I love watching Paul A Young temper, there’s such a fluidity to his movements that is quite peaceful and enjoyable to watch. I’m not sure I generate the same feeling but after my visit to the L’Atelier I am a little more confident and will definitely give it lots more practice.
I have loved my Godiva experience, I have learned so much about Godiva and their industry and made some good friends at Godiva and Hix Selfridges.
Would I enter the #ChocolateChallenge again? absolutely!