Trick or treat? This Halloween season at La Colombe the answer is most definitely treat. A delectable chocolate has traveled all the way from Peru to the shelves of our cafes.
Éclat Chocolate’s story began with Master Chocolatier, Christopher Curtin. Curtin spent over 3 decades traveling and researching, looking for new and exciting ingredients to make the delicious treat. After 14 straight years of being abroad, Curtin opened Éclat Chocolate in 2004 in West Chester, PA.
The specialty chocolate comes from beans sourced directly from small, one-hectare farms in Peru. Éclat blends modern confectionery techniques with traditional craft techniques to create fine, handmade chocolate and confections. The company’s successes include “Best Truffle in America” by Bon Appetit in 2016 and “finalist” at the 2018 Good Food Awards.
We sat down with the Master Chocolatier, Christopher Curtin, himself for a quick Q&A. Here’s what we discovered:
1. When did you know you wanted to be a Chocolatier? Who inspires/inspired you?
The decision to specialize was made after passing the Masters Exam in Europe in pastry, small breads and chocolate in 1994. There are certain parameters in chocolate that make it interesting with the extra attention to detail and minimal ingredients. The addition of traveling to source ingredients and getting to know other cultures has always been an interest to me and has led directly to many of our social programs we are involved in. The Spanish chocolate makers are also a huge inspiration; they tend to be a little bit more edgy. Also, just seeing great design from Eames, Dieter Rams, Frank Lloyde Wright, and Jony Ive are very important and inspiring. It’s important to think about form and function and how to create not only great flavor but an experience.
2. What went into making the La Colombe Morning Break and Turkish blend? Inspirations? Sourcing on these products?
At Eclat we’re inspired by quality and always trying to improve the experience and flavor with pure ingredients, texture and even the shape of the chocolate. Simply changing the size of the coffee bean in the chocolate makes the experience more balanced and increases flavor. It sounds esoteric but surface area and the flavor release is something we think about a lot. Since the Turkish and Morning break’s launch in 2011, they have become cult and we have some customers that come in and buy up to 10 bars at a time. They’re crazy good with the smaller sized coffee nibs in the chocolate.
3. How do you take your coffee?
I like my coffee normally black or a simple espresso especially if I haven’t tried the coffee brand before. It’s a little test I guess. There’s nothing to hide behind in a perfect espresso. That said, love the Cortado at La Colombe.
4. What does sourcing mean to you?
Sourcing always has two components, quality and ethical/social issues. If a product has a problem with either of these, we don’t want to support it. We always try to go first hand and see the working conditions of the farms and also that the farming practices sustainability and environmentally sound.
5. Why should people try Eclat? What makes it different?
I think of course a lot of it is the training and background of where I worked in Europe but after that it is all about the desire to make something as well as you can and always see where there can be improvements. It’s the constant attention to detail and wanting to do a better job then the time before. The whole team at Éclat is extremely passionate and we can’t do it without that commitment. Everyone who has made the decision to be a craftsman knows that gratification in knowing when something is done really well. There seems to be a lot of discussion about craftsmanship, but pride in craftsmanship is harder to find.
Sound like something you can’t resist? On Halloween, receive an Éclat Chocolate bar for FREE with the purchase of any 12 oz box of coffee!