I love chocolate. It is one of my most favorite things to eat. I want to know more about this delectable, sometimes delicate, bitter sweet sensual confection. Before attempting to temper, mold, make and eat my own: I need an expert. I sit down with Executive Pastry Chef, Kriss Harvey, at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills to find more on the subject. We discuss much. Bean to bar, when chocolate was introduced, his personal favorites, a little kitchen to cosmetics and more..
I arrive at the SLS on this hot October afternoon. 1:00 pm. Jose Andres is in house this day. Kriss Harvey gets word to me that he will be a little late as he is on an errand for one of the three in house restaurants. I am seated on a beautiful aristocratic brown tufted leather sofa in Tres. The decor is urban chic. The room is cool and music is just the right volume. I take a couple of test shots of a chandelier with my Nikon and people watch while I wait. Hotels are great for this especially in Los Angeles. Kriss arrives and I am quickly ushered into his home away from home, The Patisserie, part of The Bazaar. Kriss pulls the chair out for me. We sit. The interview begins and about half way through, mid-question, Jose Andres walks in and Kriss stops him and introduces me. Kriss and Jose talk shop, discuss moments of blasts from the past, some of Jose’s restaurant beginnings and his work in Haiti as I stand there between them. After a few giggles and laughs about me understanding his (Jose’s) accent, I promise him to make Kriss look good. And I’ll let you be the judge.
Me: Who started chocolate? When did it begin popular?
KH: Interesting question. The other day I thought about that. We don’t know what chocolate tasted like 100 years ago.. Technology has changed chocolate and the industry. When I started my career you could get three kinds of chocolate: Black, milk and white… And that was it. Now the companies like Vahlrona, Cacao Barry…. all of the chocolate companies have multiple: whites 31, 32, 33, Multiple milk chocolates 33, 41, 46. Valrhona now has a Bahibe 46%. And all the dark chocolates…People used to eat 55% in this country twenty five years ago and then they moved to a 58% and then something challenging would be like a 64% now people are moving to 72% and 75% things like that. The higher the number would be the more bitter and then the other side of that would be more sugar. So, when you see a chocolate is 70% it is a combination between the cocoa butter and chocolate mass which is called the chocolate liquor. So, anything unsweetened is called liquor. And the cocoa butter in it determined the fluidity of it. The ones with higher amounts/number have less sugar and more fluidity. Like chocolate chips don’t melt. They are low percent of cocoa butter, like 29% which is extremely low for dark chocolate. When you make chocolate chip cookies, the idea is that you don’t want to have the chocolate hanging out on your lip when you eat a cookie..
Me: How did you get started in Pastry and Baking?
KH: Well, two of my brothers are Chefs. Mark is a CIA’ graduate of ‘81 and Tom graduate of ’91 and I was the youngest of my siblings and like most people that I interview for jobs I ask the same thing. “How do you get into it?” Mostly people say “oh my Mom was a great cook” or “my Dad was a great cook” or “my Grandmother”. Mostly that. Not usually the Dad but usually, the Mom. My Mom loved to cook. I also lived with Asians. Nephew was Thai (he is really more like my brother) and my Mom learned from family friends and relatives how to cook Thai and Vietnamese food. I love Asian food and I love it to this day. So, I started out cooking actually and I didn’t think of pastry. Then, I thought of pastry. My one brother said no money in Pastry Chef and nobody wants them and there isn’t any money in Pastry Chef. That is kind of true. They pay you $12 an hour and call you a Pastry Chef. Lot of restaurants around any city in America do this. They have the same title that I do. It’s not fair to people like myself or for those that want to get to the point where I am leading a large team and have command over multiple units, like I do, things like that. Not fair to that person either, that person is called Pastry Chef. They are stunted. They are not Pastry Chef. What are they going to do come interview with me for a job? They aren’t Pastry Chef. They skip the steps to build this and I equate it with someone comes to me and says I want big muscle but they don’t want to lift all the weights do the things that requires you to get build muscles and it is the same thing in pastry. You have to master many basics as you will use them throughout your entire career. Master crème anglaise, making pastry cream, making ganaches, dacquoise, biscuit and all these things mastering techniques with various ingredients. Basically you have a few techniques but multiple recipes and using very familiar ingredients. You’ll see almond powder, powdered sugar, egg white powder, flour..foaming is foaming, creaming sugar and butter is the same. If you are making chocolate chip cookie dough you can make sables and start changing the flour to pistachio or almond or whole wheat or something like that..
Adapting to ingredients. So the technique is the most important thing. Learning the ingredients and what they are especially the technical ones like invert sugar and the difference of what it does and what glucose syrup does and what powdered glucose is used for…
People need to take time to understand that. Not enough time and energy spent on that and they don’t know what they are using.
When I first started here, previous Pastry Chef didn’t know confectionary sugar candies. He didn’t even have liquid glucose here. He was using dried glucose to make pate de fruit. It doesn’t work. Dried glucose is for ice cream and sorbet. Glucose syrup is for caramel and pate de fruit and things like that. They do two different things even though they have similar names. It’s similar to multiple types of vitamins that humans can take but they all do different things.
I transitioned from cooking into pastry because I like the science of it. I was interested in serving people the final thing, you know. I thought I could be better at it faster than cooking.
Cooking is limited. Seems so Verse/Chorus/Verse. How songs are written. Where as pastry there are so many things to do. I thought I could be better at it and there is a lot more to master. I have a very wide skill set. Can make sugar candies, marshmallows, caramels, chocolate bars and bonbons, enrobe chocolate and small cakes, ice cream sorbets.. lot more to master. I have a very wide skill set. I have been doing this for 25 years.. I have been taught by some of the best ones and have gone out and sought out some of their training. I consider myself an expert, an expert sugar candy maker, an expert in chocolates and bonbons and ice creams and sorbets. It is because I have learned from so many..
Me: What steps to take to get to where you are today? Did you go to another country and study?
KH: The person gave me my first big break.. I moved to Washington, DC and I took a job at a restaurant Kincaid’s. Bob Kincaid. Well known Chef at the time and still is and probably close to retirement.
Pastry Chef that hired me was Jackie Riley. I thought I could get by just showing up. She fired me–One of the best things that ever happened to me. I was 21 years old and arrogant jerk. So I applied for a job at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City. The Chef that hired me quit and his last day was the day I started. They hired a guy from France. He was the nephew of White House Pastry Chef Rolland Meisner. Rolland’s nephew interviewed and was selected to be the Pastry Chef of the hotel and his name is Sylvain Guyez. Sylvain truly gave me my life in pastry.
He lives in Spain now and still works with company, Ritz-Carlton company…Great story. Takes a little time. Let me go through it. Sylvain was a great Pastry Chef,..
I knew that I had better taste buds than he.. The French are locked in certain things that they eat. They only cook and eat within the repertoire. They very rarely go off..
You see lots of ethnic food in Paris but you would never see that anywhere outside of Paris. You see that because there is alot of immigrants there. There is alot of North Africans because they colonized Morocco and Algeria and things like. You see alot of couscous, middles eastern foods and sweets and these foods are locked in neighborhoods but not in French restaurants.. See lots of Vietnamese food but again does it cross to pastry, it goes into those neighborhoods. You can find Pho and noodles but you wouldn’t see that in a French restaurant…like you would see here, we do Asian food here. They are not open to it..
But, he was a great technician. He taught me all the fundamentals of techniques. Not a day goes by that I don’t teach something or utilize something that he taught me..not a day goes by. He introduced me to Pasquel Janvier. Pasquel trained me in chocolate and small cakes and things like that. Then Pasquel introduced me to a gelato master, Guiseppe Scaringnella and he was doing things with ice cream and gelato that I had never seen before. He was a technician of ice cream and he understood the science of ice cream. He was doing things that I hadn’t seen. I thought it had to taste good enough and then just put it in the machine. He was using things that Pastry Chefs didn’t have access to 20 years ago..after spending time with him, I changed how I did it as the ingredients became more available. I also studied in France with Emanuel Ryon MOF ice cream maker and Pastry Chef and really changed my life as well. I also trained with Christoph Felder at Hotel Crillon.. He is Alsatian. He was the Pastry Chef there. There was two restaurants and a bar called Obelisk. They were very impactful and especially my brain. I spent more than a year with Sylvain. To this day Pasquel and I are still friends. He lives in Austraila. I lost tract of him because he lived in Northern California and had a pastry shop and then he sold it and moved to Austraila. I ran into him in NYC at a restaurant show a couple of years ago when I was a corporate pastry chef in a company out of Switzerland. He was judging something. And he tasted my ice cream and yogurt sorbet he wanted the recipe for his wife. Incredible. For him to credit and compliment me, really validated me and all the steps that I have made. All the suffering. I sacrificed finances, sacrificed sleep and physical well -being and things like relationships. Those things are not normal. I don’t know who’s is but they are less normal as a professional. As far as that goes it all looks good and everyone wants to meet and think you are all great and all this but it is very hard to have a normal relationship. You don’t work normal hours for one and when you are this level and this type of exposure and people on the social media come out of the woodwork. Just as an example, today, “friends” messaging and “Maybe I can come in tonight” or “I have a friend in town, can you say hello to them?”…They find you on Instagram and think you are something greater that you are. It’s a little too much at times. I am 50-50. I think it is great and then I think if they meet me they may be very disappointed. I can’t always be everything to everybody that they want me to be. My last relationship ended because of that; not being able to deal with all the exposure and people coming out of the woodwork. It’s made me very cautious in getting close to anyone. That was the relationship I wanted to be in but couldn’t be in because she couldn’t deal with all of it. That part made it very difficult. Sometimes I joke I want to be as weird as Andy Warhol and people will just leave me alone. Or just accept me for my weirdness.
Me: How long have you been an Executive Pastry Chef at SLS?
KH: 2 ½ years. Since April 2013 I started…
Me: How large is your staff?
KH: My staff is 18-20 pastry cooks. We have three restaurants.
Me: What does it mean to be a chocolatier? Would you, is it considered an Artisan craft?
KH: I was just talking about that yesterday. There are people that..So, you know Suzanne Goin over here (referring to The Larder) I love what they do. I love simple baked things. They do simple baked things. We don’t do simple baked things. We do cannale and croissant.. Things like this but are coming out with a Bostock. It’s brioche typically soaked in orange flower water then they spread pastry cream and almonds and its baked. I don’t know the origin and its not something that you see in Paris. The name kinda sounds German..We are going to do one with berry water and syrup and almonds..matcha almond cream.. We don’t have simple baked things.
We have more built items like mousse cakes and bars..
I am not an artisan baker like Suzanne’s person. I admire. I don’t know who that is but she or he does a great job. So I am not an artisan baker. As far as chocolate it is an artisan type craft. I am a chocolatier. What we do is perfect. I believe in perfection. We take many steps to make them perfect. How we put the backs on bon bons and tablets. We close the bonbons twice. We add another strip of chocolate and then acetate and then we close again with same tool. Makes the bottoms perfectly flat. That is the difference.. It matters to close twice.. makes them perfectly flat and shiny. We do the same things with tablets and they would be two or three grams lighter per tablet.. I know in my heart it has to look perfect. People around the world were asking the other day after I posted a video on Instagram, and people around the world were asking,” why do you do that?” People don’t see the bottom.. We want to make sure the people get the best the best experience the best chocolate the look and the feel. It has to be just right. This is why I consider myself an artisan. The way we polish the mold. The look and the feel of our chocolates and bars and bonbons has to be just right..
Me: Recently, you were looking to fill a position on your team. How long are apprenticeships? What do you look for?
KH: Job history and stability. We had some good candidates. You 5-6 months there it’s not good enough. This place is so busy here and there is so much to do here and you will do the same thing over and over again until you master them. You will be a caramel master, pate de fruit and a marshmallow master. You will know how to make them in your sleep. It takes so long to get up and running in your training and after 5 or 6 months to invest in someone to have them pick up and leave its not worth it to us. Unless we don’t want them here, in which case I am ok. If someone wants to come and work here, we can teach but if their brain can absorb it. Not everyone can absorb it. Everyone learns at a different pace.
Me: How long do you have to study to be an expert? What makes someone good at chocolate?
KH: For me, I am continually enhancing myself and taking training. Last year, no year before, I took three different trainings with MOF chocolate and candy maker and I learned panned almonds, hazelnuts and raisins in a drum. I have become very strong at that. Added different element to the Patisserie having coated nuts and fruits and things like that coated nuts and things like that. Lot of the techniques you can teach yourself. You can teach yourself many things after you become an expert. I know how to make croissants and laminated dough…Can we make pan chocolate, of course we can. Then we said, “can we make pan gianduja” (hazelnut and milk chocolate). I haven’t ever seen anyone do that before. We dreamt that up and brought it to fruition and it’s realized and on the menu right now.
Everybody wants the fast track. You can’t put twenty years in one year. Part of it is there are so many career changes. I have been doing this for twenty-five years and I don’t consider myself a finished product. I consider myself a work in progress. Getting into it later in life does limit you. But, You can say the next three years I am going to prepare myself to start a business and I am going to be the “Queen of Tarts.” Open a tart shop. You learn all tart dough for three years and all fillings and decorations and master that. And you will be will be the Queen of Tarts. Make a million dollars off that great. Look at the woman who started Sprinkles. She’s no f’n Pastry Chef. Her cupcakes are no different than anybody else in reality. She can’t get more flavor or more sugar. More chocolate into it. She is selling a brand. She put Beverly Hills on it. It’s like Kenneth Cole puts New York on the bottom of his packaging. It says Kenneth Cole New York. It isn’t Kenneth Cole Chicago. It doesn’t mean the same. It’s not that Chicago is a bad city but New York is better. Ok. Comme des Garcons puts Paris or A.P.C. puts Paris for a reason. It doesn’t say Comme des Garcons Burgundy. Nobody would give two shits about it. She is no Pastry Chef. She says, “I am going to sell these cupcakes.!” She builds the same size place. Scottsdale, Arizona and Beverly Hills are all the same size place. She makes herself look busier than she is and why should she dedicate 800 square feet to each shop. .All of her shops look the same and she probably makes a million and half off each one and well…
Me: Who produces the most cocoa in the world?
KH: Ivory Coast by far.. about 28% percent of the worlds supply. Then Venezuela but 7% they keep (at least under Chavez because Chavez stopped exporting) And after that the rest of the chocolate comes from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Madagascar, etc.
Me: Who makes the best chocolate in the world?
KH: Me, I do.
Me: Explain tempering chocolate?
KH: Warm to 42 degrees centigrade and melt them over night. The decrystalization for 12 hours and quickly cool them down to 27-28 degrees centigrade for white chocolate and milk chocolate and black chocolate between 29-30.5 centigrade to cool. So when you temper chocolate, when you decrystalized it the cells separate and then you quickly have to bring them back together so they hold themselves together and you get the shine and the snap and the taste. The only difference is the chocolates is in the cooling temperature to which to hold so you can work with it.
Un-tempered chocolate doesn’t taste right either. So its like when you take egg yolks, salt and oil and you can process eggs in food processor and slowly add oil and add a little salt and you get this supple mayonnaise or you can throw in the eggs oil and salt at once and it taste like a greasy mess.
Me: What type of molds work do you use? And where do you buy? Where do you get your inspiration for these molds?
KH: We get our molds from Chocolate World in Belgium. I pick out ones with softer curves in them and less negative space to them. They are easy to polish and to spray. In other words ones with negative edges don’t look great with spray in them. The spray collects in the corners and makes them heavier. We polish them with colored cocoa butter for bonbons..
I usually order one piece and try out a mold and then I if I like, I will buy multiples. For instance when we went to our Warhol bonbons, I put about six months in working on the colors and the flavors and before I really committed to doing the entire concept because we took something that we had already been doing for a long time, and turn it into a new concept and creating the bonbons and the colors and in some cases creating colors and creating the filling and then we had to have the person that does our packaging make our inserts or us and that took six months. KMM does our packaging. And we wanted them to fit in the boxes we had to have the inserts made and it took a long time was a big investment and we dedicated our future to it. Been very successful. We have a story behind the bonbons. Inspired by Andy Warhol and they have all the silver in them. Idea as I have said many times, idea of having 8 bonbons; 8 different bonbons but in the same shape was because Like many artist. Andy worked in seriality and repetition. Certain artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol or Pablo Picasso and they would do the same thing over and over again. Go to a Warhol exhibit. A hundred of the exact same thing. The Cows. Marilyn Monroe. They are all same basically. The shadows may be different but they were the exact same thing. May have a different color but the exact same thing. This was incredible to me. I want them to look the same but be different at the same time. They all have silver in them like the silver cloud that he inflated and photographed as it moved around in the factory. Color doesn’t determine the flavor just had to make sense aesthetically to the eye. Big inspiration behind that…Color and shape for the seriality…
Me: Is technology playing a part in the way chocolate is made?
KH: As far as bean to bar stuff..it’s Long complicated story. A few years ago I knew this guy Claudio Corallo. He was an Italian agronomist from Italy married to a Portuguese woman living in the Congo. He was in the coffee industry. When Congo fell apart to civil war, he escaped to the former Portuguese hold of Sao Tome and Principe–two Western Africa islands and there he found abandoned plantations that the Portuguese left behind in 1973 after the country gained independence. He brought this back to life. As it turned out, the first cocoa that came to the entire continent of Africa from Brazil… He found this orchard and growing and picking these cocoa pods and cooking and making chocolate in an old fashioned way. Very antiquated. He used no soy lecithin. He didn’t put any vanilla in it. He made chocolate in a very old fashioned way. It tasted very musty very earthy it had some nuances to it . Some were acidic, some had some spice to it. He found a way to make liquor out of the flesh of fava. He made a clear spirit out of that and get raisins drunk with it and put that into some of the bars. It was incredible. I always said that it was like tasting chocolate like 100 years ago before technology got involved with it. Not only did technology get involved in making chocolate, big companies like Nestle, and Cacao Barry and then they were purchased by Callebaut and they bought all the competitors, CARMA and put them out of business. And then they bought Choco Vik in Spain. SO, they bought all of their competitors, yeah?
And the chocolate used to be traded on a market in Brooklyn called Cocoa Tea and Coffee Exchange and traded like any other commodity and big companies could take whatever they wanted. The best of the best. Even single origin. One bean. And they left the rest to everyone else. So these companies would take seven beans or nine beans. And blend and get things just where they wanted to by using science. Using the microscope. They would use science and chemist. They would roast the beans a certain way and deodorize the beans a certain way and then put through the process of making chocolate. Sometimes they would strip the dry matter out and add cocoa butter. Some people including this guy that lives near me at a place called Letter Press Chocolates said, “Screw it!” I am going to learn how to make it myself. So the equipment has gotten smaller and more affordable, he’s travel down to Guatemala and invested in a plantation. He has a supply of cocoa. He gets beans from Bolivia, Dominican, Africa.. He buys in small batches and has these makers in his small apartment he sits there from his apartment and makes chocolate. Bean to bar. SO no longer necessarily being run through these large companies Nestle, Calllebeaut and the company that owns Valhrona, Weiss… company that has some larger holdings in the chocolate business.
Me: What machines do you use?
KH: LCM My machine is mechanical but still a high tech piece of machinery
Me: How long does chocolate last? Does it expire?
KH: It does expire. Yep, black is good for 2 years and white and milk 15 months
Me: Why does coffee enhance the flavor of chocolate? And do you add coffee to your chocolate candies?
KH: I don’t but my belief is to match items that grow near each other. And coffee and cacao are the items that grown near each other and are linear in acids and tanins
Me: What is the best temperature to store chocolate? And how should you store?
KH: I store in the 60 degree Fahrenheit airtight containers at 60 % humidity if you can control that, that’s what it likes. Not in the freezer not the fridge obviously…too much humidity. Store in foil bags or airtight containers.
Me: At what temperature is best to serve chocolate?
KH: Great question. I think when you eat chocolate you should let it sit in your mouth about five seconds and swirl around with your tongue before you really start chewing on it. Warms up a little bit and it is a little better tasting. Probably low 70’s. Doesn’t start melting until mid 80’s. I usually do this in Centigrade but I am doing this in Fahrenheit. 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Me: Just on a side note..We hear this often these days; Is dark healthy for you? And is it more so than milk chocolate? What are the health benefits in your opinion? Is it relevant in your world and to you?
KH: They say antioxidants. I think in the most pure form, the fruit inside the pod itself and but then when you mix the sugar and start processing then it’s not so f’n hot for you.. know what I mean?..
Me: What is the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate?
KH: Milk chocolate they add dry milk powdered to it. Milk chocolate is much sweeter. Milk chocolate is always sweeter. For a long time Americans only eat milk chocolate.. we were raised on Hershey bars and things like that.
Now their taste buds have really changed. Like the generation behind us, of kids grew up eating sour candy and someone said we are going to make the candy sour and ask them what kind of candy now extremely sour. We grew up eating chocolate bars, sneakers, nuggets, Reese’s peanut butter cups, milky ways , nuts things like that and then like twenty five years ago someone said we are going to push the limit and treat it like wine. They convinced people. And I don’t know who it was..I think it was the industry really. Like the pork industry, went on that campaign and cook pork medium and when I was growing up it was like dirty animal and my Mom would cook like shoe leather and now its medium rare… now it’s like sushi grade at this point..
ME: What is so special about Belgian chocolate? French? Italian? Why do some prefer on more than the other?
KH: Italians never got into chocolate until a few years ago. They eat chocolate but they never really got into artisan but there is a company out of Tuscany called Amadei. They are an incredible brand and very expensive and hard to get in this country. Chocoshpere in Portland carried them. Belgians do a great job on it. I visited Pierre Marcolini a few months ago in Europe. He as an advantage over other chocolatiers in Europe… He makes nine varieties. As many vareties as letters are in his last name (purposefully) He has nine single origin varieties. One from Mexico, one from Cuba, DM… etc, etc.. He makes his own chocolate for his bonbons. Where as Patrick Roger, to me the best chocolatier in the world is Patrick Roger. To me that guy is a genius.
KH: Your goal is to be very visionary in your aesthetic. The French do things very plainly. He is very daring in that he uses colors in his bonbons. He came out a few years ago with half spheres and they have green orange and black in them. You would never see in Le Mansion de Chocolate or Jean Paul famous chocolate maker in Paris… enrobe in milk or dark, decoration on the outside with their fork and …beautifully simple. He does a lot of that too but when he does something like what he does with his color and things he freaks the French out. He says I don’t care I am going to do it anyway. He had a reputation and he gambled and he did it successfully. He is a little bit of a rebel as far as the French go like I said before they only eat what they know. For instance to them, it can’t be coconut sorbet with coconut meringue and passion fruit oh no no it is vanilla ice cream and white meringue and that is it. They aren’t into pushing themselves. To put an Indian spice in a beurre blanc or something like that, they would never do that. It’s not them. It’s not them. Look at Spain. Especially the Catalonians like he is (Jose Andres) have over taken the. Yes, we have tradition in Spain but we don’t have a dictator and we are going to do whatever the F we want and take the food you know and twist it around and serve like you have never seen before. They are better at creativity than the French are. I think the world is leaning that way and I don’t say that because I work for him.
A reporter asked me a few months ago for Star Chefs, who would you most like to collaborate with, what Chef and I said I am already doing it. This is the guy I want to be with..
Me: Do you make raw chocolate desserts?
KH: No but I love them. I am not an expert in making them but I do love them. I love raw food. I was just talking about this woman that has Karyn’s Raw in Chicago. Karyn Calabrese. She is sixty some odd years old and looks amazing in a bikini.
Me: Do you use the same chocolate to bake that you would use for a frosting or a cake?
KH: Yes. Pure Caraibe.
Me: Do you use transfer sheets?
Me: Do you use savory spices when making chocolate?
KH: I love spices in chocolate. We have the pink breast cancer hearts when that line expires at the end of this month I am considering a line of hearts with curry, Chinese Five spice and caramelized cinnamon (Ceylon Cinnamon is the only real cinnamon from Sri Lanka), things like that..
Me: Do you make Kosher chocolates?
KH: Nope. Doesn’t get involved with many dietary restrictions even though I am gluten free and vegetarian
Me: Why do you use Valrhona?
KH: I love Valrhona for the prestige it has. I love the flavor of the chocolate and I love the support from the company, that they give us…I have been using Valrhona users since 1998. There are some items from Cocoa Barry that I love. I got my early training from Cocoa Barry so I will always have an affinity for them. There are a couple that Weiss makes that I think are great They make incredible pralines. As far as Valrhona., their core chocolates Pur Caribe, Jivara and Caramelia.. and the Dulcey too, the blonde chocolate.. things move very slow in my business.in the last twenty five years two things have been introduced– Cocoa nibs and blonde chocolate. That’s it.
Me: How and when do you use certain percentages of grade of chocolate?
KH: I love this one called Pur Caraibe. The other chocolates are too tannin and acidic and need to be the feature. Pur Caraibe doesn’t steal the show. Its’ just chocolate. Depends if you are enrobing or making a filing
Me: What do you think of Hershey’s Chocolate?
KH: I love Mr. Hershey. He was an incredible guy. He was an orphan. I am almost certain he is an orphan. When he traveled he would travel alone and he always was seated in a corner of restaurants. So when he became wealthy, he made his building round so nobody would sit in the corners. Always had an orphanage on his property as well. And to this day he has scholarships available for needy kids. As wealthy as he got he never gave up who he was. He was an orphan, so he was a Baron. I wouldn’t ever want to work for Hershey though because too big.
Bought Shaffen Berger, company started in Napa by a Doctor and a former sparkling wine maker and first American artisan chocolate maker. Hershey bought them because they [Hershey] can’t think of that because they are too big. They have to buy concepts like that.
If someone has a kiss on the table I’ll grab it and I’ll eat it. I love candy bars.
Me: What is your favorite candy bar?
Me: What is your favorite chocolate?
KH: Pur Caraibe
Me: What is the best chocolate that you have ever eaten?
KH: I love Valrhona Jivara. The milk one. It’s brown sugar malt and vanilla. Best Milk chocolate I have ever had. NO question. There is a great company Guittard in Northern California. They are going on their 4th generation of ownership for a family and he makes incredible blends. He is really deeply involved. He is incredible. Making his own cocoa. Incredible. Valhrona Jivara is my favorite. I don’t eat it because it has malt in it and make me wonder if it is even legal to call it chocolate since it has malt in it. Any time you add something other than cocoa, chocolate liquor, coco butter, sugar, soy lethcin or vanilla. It’s why Ganjuia isn’t chocolate because it has hazelnuts.
ME: What chocolate would you use for Chocolate fudge?
KH: Oh, I don’t make fudge. I was trained in Europe and it’s an American thing. I would like to make it.
ME: What alcohol pairs best with chocolate?
KH: Depends. In Spain they have the best Sherry’s. Incredible. Raisin chocolate syrup finish to it so if you have it with a bitter 72% or 73% chocolate or something acidic chocolate pairs great with Pedro Ximenez , it’s my favorite.
Sweeter white milk or Dulcey can get away with something more dry or mellow because they are so sweet. Or some French dessert wines or Moscato from Italy. Tokaji Hungarian wine. Eastern Europe knows desserts and their dessert wines that are not Sherry’s are some of the best.
Me: What is the most expensive chocolate piece you have ever eaten?
KH: I can tell you I had the last piece, I cant tell you what it cost because it was gifted to me, the very last piece of Claudio Corellio with the drunken raisins in it. The Alcohol, Tabaco, Firearms Bureau wasn’t keen on him making his on liquor for it. Seemed like moonshine to them. I could tell you that was the I had the last piece on earth. He stopped making it. He started buying a commercially made Grappa from Italy so it could be traced even though he knew how to make distilled liquor. You can’t do that in this country.
So, that was probably the most costly piece of chocolate I have ever had.
Me: What is the most expensive piece of chocolate on the market?
Me: What is the most expensive chocolate you have ever made and for whom?
KH: For Roll Royce, although they didn’t want them in the end. So a combination of ingredients and labor made the chocolate the most expensive to make.
Me: What is MOF? Will you compete at MOF?
KH: Meilleur Ouvrier de France. MOF is a badge of honor. I tried competing in a C3 competition and I didn’t get selected. I got a better deal anyway going to NYC with Valrhona and Star Chefs anyway. I would but it would take me away from my work here.
ME: Do you have any advice for the home cooks/bakers looking to make chocolate at home? Best steps to take and if giving gift any style that you would recommend that would be a for sure set up for success scenario? Does matter what kind of chocolate?
KH: Always matters. Always matter. Yeah, the chocolate that you want to enrobe or line your mold or dip into is not the one that has the nuance. Not the one with acidity or tannins. Don’t want the outer to steal the flavor from the star of the show which is the Grenache or filling . Needs to be mellow. Right fluidity. Plain chocolate. In our machine, we have a very mellow chocolate. 61%. Right fluidity. Plainest chocolate. The chocolate around the bonbons has to be very plain. The filling is the feature. Won’t impress you with acidity and tannins. It doesn’t need to. That is where the genache takes over. Two with exact same name. Vahlrona 61% Satilia noir (black) Satilia milk Vahlrona uses these two enrobe. Very unimpressive. And does the job in our machine. What we have in our machine. Right fluidity and all that. When I started here.. The guy originally had..beans from different parts of the world taste different. Beans Venezuala are highly acidic. That’s what he had in the machine And I went to make something with it and had roasted nuts and didn’t get the nuts and the chocolate in the machine were too acidic and it tasted like shit. I wanted to taste the nuts in this particular chocolate. I wanted the nuts to be the star of the show. Chocolate to be the supporting actor and filling is always the feature. Unless it’s a bar even then, I don’t sell bars like chocolate shops…
Me: Regarding style of chocolates and shipping chocolates in general—what would or wouldn’t ship?
KH: Yeah, I never ship any of mine ever. Never. People ask me to do it all the time. I say no way. It will never make it. I tried to send my friend in San Francisco and it was like a bomb went off and my friend never go what they what they wanted.
ME: If you could make chocolate with anyone who would it be and why?
KH: Patrick Roger. The best. Innovative. He, he’s ..what he does is very simple. All his sculptures and things are very different. One of the things that I really love about his chocolates is he was making bonbons that were actually acidic and the inside would be sour, or vinegar never see that in France, wouldn’t happen…He is forward and progressive and challenges French people greatly.
****FUN FACT: Cocoa Butter is excellent for moisturizing the skin (shake Kriss Harvey’s hand and you will see what I mean)
I test a paste with the Mycryo and Coconut oil. Maybe a new moisturizer or a scrub in the making?
Kriss Harvey test project:
My making chocolate experience:
Well, after interviewing this expert, I realize that I for sure have my work cut out for me. In theory,chocolate making should be easy, yes, easy. Last Christmas I even took a chocolate candy and marshmallow class at Surfas Kitchens in Culver City (I was on a “best marshmallow” in hot chocolate kick then). That has to count for something, even if I am an amateur. Having some idea about what to do is great and all— The SLS Patisserie, well that is something entirely different than what is going to happen in my kitchen. Bonbon making was not in the 101 Surfas Culver City class. And of course, after interviewing the expert, you know I want to fill my chocolates… soooahh; I test flavors. I test curry with raw lemon honey, strawberry pop rocks with Nutella and black Hawaiian salt. Who cares, fun is trying, messing up and succeeding. I give it a shot or three shots for this post.
Brand Chocolate of choice: Valhrona (of course)
Flavor combinations look like this..
(and because this is round one, I decide to try a chocolate bark and a tablet)
First round one Valrhona 61% 66% 50-50 mix tempered and spread..
First round part two..after cutting transfer sets and placing into mold..chocolate is added..and before it cools I add each flavor combination to taste test..
**Somewhere in this round this also happens. Beautiful, inedible incorrectly tempered chocolate
Round two: A for sure start again.. I am certainly no expert but I for sure can do better than the above..
While my chocolates are not even close to that of Kriss Harvey’s, they didn’t turn out that bad at all. I even asked Kriss to taste my little chocolates; all of them. Even the mistakes. The feedback– The ones not tempered properly, were hard to judge. The Nutella Raspberry Pop Rocks chocolate bark, “it was very good”..I’ll take it.
Until next time…
Other related and resources:
Kings of Pastry (documentary MOF competition)