Chocolate Excellence through Sustainable Innovation
Today approximately 80% of cocoa beans are sourced from Africa, most prominently in Ivory Coast in North Africa. Along with industrial agriculture comes deforestation and child labour, not to mention natural constraints that undermine the quality of the beans. That is why Chocolaterie de l’Opera choses to never use cocoa beans from Africa for their dark couverture chocolates — the brand knows where to turn to instead.
High Humidity, well-distributed rainfall and sufficient shade, cocoa trees get the most ideal growing condition endowed by nature in their native South and Central America. Here, cocoa trees grow naturally without becoming dependent on excessive fertilisers and pesticides, which affect not only the quality of the cocoa beans, but are inevitably detrimental to both human beings and planet earth.
Artisan couverture maker wows Hong Kong
A French family business working in chocolate for four generations, Chocolaterie de L'Opéra has scouted around the globe for years and handpicked the best cocoa planters from rare territories around the world, from Dominican Republic of the Caribbean, Papua new Guinea in Oceania to South America’s Ecuador. All products are certified to be single-origin, which vary distinctly in flavors and aromas — subtle, intense, flowery, to name a few.
On July 11, Nicolas de Loisy, head of the company, shared his passion and expertise with a group of professional pastry chefs and chocolatiers in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Hong Kong along with Meilleur Ouvrier de France Frédéric Hawecker, who demonstrated recipes with the premium chocolates of Chocolaterie de L’Opéra.
The chocolate DNA
Chocolaterie de L'Opéra specialises in producing artisanal couverture chocolate for the professionals. Meticulous in both sourcing and production, the brand epitomises business transformation with ongoing innovation following sustainable principles from the basis of succeeded expertise.
A highlight of the event was the showcase of a documentary on one of the cocoa plantation sites in Alta Verapaz, Central Guatemala. Instead of industrialising the production process of cocoa beans, the Maya community in Alta Verapaz is trained to take up the role with an artisanal approach. Fresh cocoa beans extracted manually from cocoa will be sent immediately to a processing centre nearby, which follows agro-ecological principles with respect for both the workers and the environment. The local community, faithfully believing in a soul in every creation including land, seeds and crops, take the production process with great care as a heartfelt gratitude to what adds up to the centre of their life. Once the cocoa beans are fermented and dried in optimal conditions, they are ready to be sent to the Chocolaterie de l’Opera production site for the next crucial stage: the roasting process.
Through years of researches, Nicolas and his father Olivier de Loisy developed the Séquencia® Technology, a new cocoa roasting process which retains the natural flavors of cocoa beans often lost during previous manufacturing processes. As explained by Nicolas, the fundamental idea behind the state-of-the-art tech is to modulate the duration and temperature during the cocoa roasting process, through which roasting cycles are created specifically to various types of cocoa beans. Roasted in small batches, the cocoa beans are ground at low temperature, and further conched for a short period of time. The technology helps reduce the roasting aroma and further bring out the unique aroma from the acidity and fermentation of the cocoa fruits.
Working with quality chocolate: Less is more
With beans that boast an inherently rich, distinctive aroma, Chocolaterie de L'Opéra produces an array of chocolates, each with a personality of its own. Guest of honour Frédéric Hawecker invited participants of the day to taste some of the brand’s chocolates in their original form, followed by his creation of scrumptious desserts made from these best-selling items. The spotlight goes to Hazelnut Paste 100% from Piedmont, Pistachio Paste 100% made from pistachio sourced from Iran and Turkey, as well as the following couverture chocolates from a meticulously-curated range:-
● Jamaya 73%
● Samana 62%
● Carupano 62%
● Tannea 43%
● Concerto 32%
In the afternoon, Frédéric demonstrated some of his recipes including a ganache with the Jamaya 73% chocolate. During the demonstration, he shared insights into his processes and pairing tips with different ingredients. He inspired fellow professionals with a key takeaway — quality chocolate works best with the simplest recipes. It is hoped that through this presentation, Chocolaterie de L'Opéra’s dedication to excellence could fuel the creativity of attending pastry chefs and confectioners as they explore new directions and bring their newest ideas to life.