What happens at Salon du Chocolat in Tokyo? Essentially, it is a multi day commercial affair where Isetan tries to make as much money as possible. This is not exactly the same as Salon du Chocolat in Paris where industry people come to check out the latest developments and catch up with colleagues. Is it any coincidence that the Salon du Chocolat is timed to occur just before Valentine’s day in Japan? Nonetheless, it was an eye opening experience indeed as I saw and met many chocolatiers from around the world.
Of course, as always, here’s a recap of Gerald Coleman from Artisan du Chocolat along with Chloe from Chole Chocolat. Artisan du Chocolat is from the United Kingdom and they were the first to make liquid salted caramel chocolates and for non other than Gordon Ramsay himself. In a previous post, I wrote about Artisan du Chocolat at the Salon du Chocolat. They currently have a shop in Sloane Square in London and a shop in Selfridges Departmental Store on Bond Street. If anyone is interested in purchasing their chocolates, just follow the links on their webpage to do so as they have loyal customers from as far away as Hong Kong.
Chloe has worked with a Bolivian Cocoa Cooperative called El Ceibo and their cocoa is grown in the lush Amazonian jungles in Bolivia. Made up of a cooperative of many smaller farmers, El Ceibo is one of the first cooperatives to do their own ‘bean to bar’ chocolates.
Chloe has worked with them to ensure that their organically grown cocoa is processed into awesome chocolates and she helps them to market it to the rest of the world. The world over, cocoa farmers are usually exploited by bulk buying trading corporations who put an emphasis on quantity, not quality.
Chloe is bringing these farmers to the world, and vice-versa as this is her life’s quest to espouse the virtues of chocolates. She is a choco-evangelist of sorts because by helping El Ceibo add value to their cocoa beans (Which would otherwise be traded as commodities), these farmers get more dosh for their hard work and BINGO! They have more incentive to grow better quality cocoa as they earn more from it.
Sebastien Bouillet’s stand with terribly trendy and over-used colours that make it really hard to differentiate his from other brands. It doesn’t help that Macarons are also one of the booth’s highlights….Yawn…..is there a more OVERDONE confection than Macarons?
Just around the corner from us is the very affable Jean Charles Rochoux who spent all his days smiling, shaking hands and posing for pictures. You can see from his face that he is really proud of his work, but is also friendly and somewhat down to earth.
Meiji’s 100% Chocolate Cafe’s stand really pops out with its array of eye catching colours for their ‘Everyday chocolate’ collection. I’ve always loved their packaging design and their shop’s interior, which was done by the superb Masamichi Katayama from WonderWall Interior Design in Japan. Its a pity though that their chocolates are nothing to rave about but they are a commercial mass market brand after all. However, they do really good milk and cream in Thailand!
The above is some Japanese company that also brings in Kaoka Organic Chocolat from France. Took a few samples and they tasted slightly better than Belcolade’s Organic range thats for sure. However, the over-roasted character of the chocolate points to either carelessness or poor beans being compensated through harder roasting. Better beans have more complex but gentler flavours that benefit most from a light roasting.
This here is Naomi Mizuno who won Callebaut’s World Chocolate Masters in 2007. Not sure if he has his own patisserie as he was a pastry teacher at the time he won the competition. Honestly, I was not really that interested because beyond winning the competition, there is no news of this guy breaking new ground or doing some exciting stuff.
Henri Le Roux, him of the CBS, or Caramel au Beurre Sale, Salted Caramels, who is now owned by Yoku Moku in Japan with him merely a figurehead. Its normal to sell your company to a corporation because you can either work till you die (If thats your preference), or you can get a load of dosh to do other things or just chill till the maker calleth your name.
C and I had the CBS Ice cream and it was rich and nutty with a slight caramel flavour. Good….yes…..mind blowing? Not exactly.
A packet of his famous CBS caramels that tasted really good! The texture was soft and not sticky with a delectable melt-in-your-mouth finish.
His famous CBS tartlettes which I brought back to London. Selling to Yoku Moku means taking advantage of their production space in Japan, that no doubt churns out tons of these tartlettes as the are a best seller. However, as with most mass produced things with the aim of maximising shelf life, a discerning tongue can taste the plasticky flavour of synthetic ingredients added into the tart shell to prolong its life.
The caramel flavour was good, but the dominating plastic flavour made it hard to access its gustatory attributes. However, I am positively sure that it is not like this when made in Quiberon, France, Henri Le Roux’ home. Do not blame Henri Le Roux, but Yoku Moku for this travesty as he cannot make the decisions anymore for the Japanese market. He sold out you say? Well, he busted his ass off for decades so in my book, its well deserved that he got a lot of dosh for his company.
Christine Ferber with her crazily priced confitures and chocolates. 15 pounds for a jar of jam? Its probably the best jam ever, but no thanks. Paris is just across the channel and I’ll get it there next time.
Further down from the overpriced jams are overpriced chocolates. These are just plain chocolate squares with bling bling on them going for sky high prices. The most expensive one was about 70 pounds and contained no more than 50g of chocolates with bling bling on them.
This was a really important lesson as something that costs so little can be dressed up a little and sold off for a high price. Its the concept of high price = scarcity = more desirability = I MUST FRIGGIN BUY THIS FOR WHATEVER IT BLOODY COSTS! The most expensive one was sold out.
None other than Jean Paul Hevin himself, the poster child for chocolates in Japan. Chocolates are good, but perhaps his marketing team is even better.
Have no idea who this guy is, but what was interesting was Monsieur Pigeon next to him.
Monsieur Pigeon, his unfortunate nickname as given by the non-French contingent stood there every day panning nuts.
Well, there were many more exhibitors and perhaps I could have taken more photos but the truth is, everyone was selling almost the same thing that is was REALLY BORING after a while. With every other bandwagon jokey of a patisserie offering macarons and rose-lychee combinations, it gets really old after a while to see that innovation seemed to have stop at Pierre Herme’s Ispahan or each chef’s ‘famous specialty’. Hey, thats commercialism for ya!
Have to go to the Salon du Chocolat in Paris to see the REAL thing. However, my wish is that one day, I will be there with Gerry (Of Artisan) and Guido (Of Guido Gobino). Overall, it was a great experience and you can read on here for more Salon du Chocolat experiences.