When you live in a big city like Toronto sometimes you need an really good excuse to revisit and fall in love again with city “attractions”. An invite to take part in a chocolate-filled Cacao Barry Flavour Dinner was my real good excuse. I got to stroll up to the CN Tower to dine at it’s 360 Restaurant on a crisp clear November night and feel like a kid again… a kid in a chocolate factory.

Cacao Barry have been holding a series of these Flavour Dinners where chefs create a tasting menu inspired by chocolate for other chefs. This particular evening we had the pleasure of devouring Executive Chef Morris’s interpretation of the many flavours of Cacao Barry. While rotating 360°… oh my, the view from here! Pretty cool right?

From white chocolate infused remoulade paired with cod cheeks to bison smothered in a chocolate and espresso demi-glace, we got to see the unique ways one chef envisions chocolate as an ingredient. When asked how he decided which way to use a particular category of chocolate he said “I just tasted it. This one for me when I tasted it, I tasted orange. So… I think, what goes with orange? For me I think duck, thyme, then blackcurrants, and there you have it…”

Hold up! Before I get into some pretty cool things I think you may not know about chocolate, I should include a brief history of Cacao Barry.

The Barry family were former coffee and tea merchants. In 1842, they decided they to turn cacao beans into “the most refined and delicate cocoa and chocolate products”. Their first investment in this was a cacao plantation in Africa. Then broadened to plantations, factories and communities in South America. Long story short, a journey of over 17o years of pioneering chocolate!

Understanding chocolate means understanding cacao (the bean) in its raw state and beyond. Where it is grown, how it’s farmed, the farmers and their community. Understanding chocolate making techniques, what consumers want, how chefs want to use chocolate, and on and on. Cacao Barry does all this and continues to push the mould (pun intended).

Their Mission:

KNOW COCOA TO KNOW CHOCOLATE.
Our mission is to bring the complete story of chocolate to the world, starting from the very source: cocoa.

My Mission For You:

KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT CHOCOLATE.

  1. Cacao and cocoa mean the same thing! The word is interchangeable.
  2. If you love chocolate you need to learn more about its sustainability.Sustainability is extremely important when it comes to cacao, since its supply is rapidly diminishing.  Check out sites like Cocoa Horizons, and its efforts to make cacao farmers families happier.
  3. Cacao Barry organizes Chef plantation trips to origin countries. How cool is that? This creates a bond between farmers and chefs and they get a unique opportunity to inspire one another. Are you interested in visiting some cocoa plantations? Click here.
  4. 100 lbs. of chocolate is eaten every second. The average chocolate lover can eat up to 24 lbs. a year. Hence, my previous points about sustainability.
  5. White chocolate is actually not true chocolate, HOWEVER, true white chocolate must have at least 20% cocoa butter in it. Check your ingredients when buying and if you love white chocolate, check this product out: Zephyr Caramel 35%. Buttery with caramel and salty notes.
  6. Want to go to chocolate school? Visit Chocolate Academy to find schools all over the world. Closest one to me is in Montreal. You may find me there in the fall.
  7. Chocolate syrup has been known to be used as fake blood in old horror movies.
  8. Did you know that M&M’s have been brought to space 130 times?
  9. How does one know what wine to pair with very distinctive high-end chocolate like Cuba 70% or chocolate from Haiti 65%? Download flavour pairing cards by famous French sommelier Francois Chartier .
  10. Did you know that lead, brick dust, and iron was snuck into cocoa powder (because of its popularity) in the 1960’s. Not good, however this helped lead the government to introducing its first set of food regulations.

All photos, courtesy of Cacao Barry, by Josh Tenn Yuk @joshteewhy