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Chef Specials part 1 | Ciel Bleu

Chocolate, Chocolate Makers, Chef Specials, Couverture

Lars

October 20th, 2016

In this Special we let chefs Onno Kokmeijer (executive chef & manager) and Arjan Speelman (chef de cuisine) of star restaurant Ciel Bleu in Amsterdam, have their say. They have been working with our couverture for a while now and we are very curious about their opinion. Uncensored. What do they think of our products? The quality, the taste, and what is it like to work with them in the kitchen?

'CHOCOLATE AS A CHILDHOOD MEMORY'


Both men are real chocolate lovers. Fortunately for someone from Chocolatemakers, they like to make time in their busy schedule. I meet the chefs of the two-Michelin-starred kitchen on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Okura. With Amsterdam as the backdrop.

How did you come into contact with the Chocolatemakers?

Onno: We came into contact with the Chocolatemakers about five years ago, when they had just started. We called them ourselves. We find it important to use real Amsterdam products in our kitchen. We are proud of this city, it is vibrant, and we want to show our many international guests what Amsterdam has to offer. Few people know that Amsterdam has the largest cocoa port in the world! The Chocolatemakers' chocolate comes from Amsterdam Noord, how close to home do you want it. And in the end the whole picture turned out to be correct.

Arjan: We want to help small and good suppliers to become bigger. That's why we invited Enver. The taste of the chocolate fitted well in our authentic kitchen. The chocolate tastes like a childhood memory!

How does a dish come about and how do you choose the perfect chocolate to go with it?

Onno: Dishes come into being by themselves, which can sometimes take a long time. The power of a good dish is that you have to be able to put emotion in it. We have a menu with 13 dishes, we never change the whole menu at once but one dish at a time or sometimes several at once. We look at the seasons a lot, of course. In winter, the strong flavours are allowed again!

Arjan: We are always looking for unique ingredients and we like to make sure we have firsts. We use the Chocolatemakers' chocolate in our sweet and savoury dishes. We always revert to the powerful flavours of the Virunga 68%. This one is on the menu with a goose liver. We use the milk chocolate Virunga 37% in a dessert with blackberries and a 23-year old rum.

What kind of feedback do you get from guests?

Onno: Positive reactions! We clearly state on the menu where we get our chocolate from, and we are proud of that. Our team is also good at conveying the story. For example, about the Très Hombres, a sailing boat that picks up the beans in the Dominican Republic and brings them to Amsterdam where the beans are made into chocolate. Good story! Recently I was asked by a guest where the cocoa in his dish comes from. From Congo, I said, but I did not know the specific part. So I went and looked it up to tell the guest. I think it is a good development that people are becoming more curious about the origin of products.

What is important to a chef when it comes to couverture?

Arjan: The taste is the most important thing! But we also think uniqueness is important. Chocolatemakers chocolate is not always 100 percent the same. That gives it an edge. It remains a handmade product with character. For example, you can hardly taste that character in Callebaut couverture, which most chefs use. This also contains a lot of extra cocoa butter and lecithin, which causes a structural change. With Chocolatemakers chocolate, you need less because it is more powerful and specific in flavor.

Onno: Yes, and storytelling is important! We are working more and more on unique Amsterdam products. It is wonderful when our many international guests walk out of the door, on their way home, with a piece of real Amsterdam chocolate in their pockets.

In 2 weeks time, the Très Hombres sailboat will arrive in Amsterdam. Will you be there?

We would love that, but this is a very busy time for us. We are busy with all kinds of new dishes in development. And next month, in early December, our new book is coming out. The Chocolatemakers have a nice place of honor in it.

With this beautiful prospect I leave the gentlemen of Ciel Bleu. On to a beautiful continuation of our cooperation!

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