I am a Snob. Here's why.
I’m comfortable with the label “chocolate snob,” though it takes more education and explanation than being a wine or cheese snob. Even beginning foodies can discern a Chateau Margaux from Two Buck Chuck. Or Velveeta from Gold Creek.
When it comes to chocolate though, the popular scale is limited, with Snickers bars on one end and sugary bonbons on the other. Let’s be clear: This is candy. There’s a time and a place for that.
The chocolate I and other choco-geeks the world over proclaim with such passion holds its place in the epicurean realm with the finest wine and cheese. It’s made by artisans who obsess over the origins of the raw materials. They research and invent techniques for transforming beans into pristine bars and rich drinking concoctions. Their dedication drives family and friends crazy.
But their creations are far more complex, gratifying and joyful than even an Almond Joy (one of my favorite candies). We call this fine chocolate. And an increasing amount of it is made and appreciated right here in Utah.
We’ve got all the components for a vibrant chocolate community. First, there’s a population that’s already familiar with chocolate by way of confections and love of sugar (it could be said it’s our only acceptable vice in lieu of alcohol). Second, there’s a concentration of local chocolate producers ranging from raw and vegan varieties like Chocolate Conspiracy to Millcreek Cacao to the new artisan makers at Solstice. And finally, there are a growing number of places where you can get your fix of local and artisan chocolate wares, including Liberty Heights Fresh and Harmons.
SLC might have a struggle ahead to achieve the status of a chic wine hub, but the rising number of world-class local chocolate–and the inevitable chocolate snobs–indicates we’ve got a shot of being a legitimate center of fine chocolate not only in America, but the world.
Montage Deer Valley Executive Pastry Chef Raymond Lammers
It sounds illegal, but Montage Deer Valley Executive Pastry Chef Raymond Lammers enrolled in pastry school at the age of twelve. A native of Holland, Lammers is a graduate of the prestigious College of Food and Beverage in Amsterdam and there’s not a lot about pastry–or chocolate–he doesn’t know.
He’s “ambassador” for Callebaut, the largest chocolate maker in the world. “I was brought up with Callebaut,” he says. But in the kitchen, he doesn’t stick to a single choco-source. “I like to use the local chocolate,” he says. “Currently, I’m using Mill Creek and Amano. I also have some Peruvian chocolate and Cacao Barry, a French chocolate. Every application could have a different chocolate.” Lammers makes all the desserts at Montage, from the high-end confections served at Apex to more casual concoctions at Vista Lounge, like the Mill Creek chocolate fondue. Or the chocolate tasting, where he presents Amano and Mill Creek bars beside desserts made from those chocolates–Amano crème brulee and Mill Creek pots de crème.
“Bean to bar chocolate is a big trend now, like the cupcake a few years ago. But the chocolate trend won’t go away—we’ll see more and more farm to bar chocolates,” he says. “Learning about chocolate has changed the way Americans eat chocolate.”
The Natural History of Chocolate
Chocolate is a gift of the New World and has a long and dramatic history and culture, as well as interesting nutritional properties and a lot of mythology. The exhibit “Chocolate” at Natural History Museum of Utah explores chocolate through the lenses of science, history and popular culture. Chocolate and its national tour were developed by The Field Museum, Chicago. This exhibition was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation; major sponsor: Sweet Candy Company. February 8–June 1 at Natural History Museum of Utah, Rio Tinto Center, 301 Wakara Way, SLC, 801-581-4303
450 S. 1325 West, Orem
6169 S. 2900 East, Ogden
(single origin, bean-to-bar, flavored)
900 S. 265 East, SLC
Scott Querry, 850 S. 400 West #117, SLC
(single origin, bean-to-bar drinking chocolate)
990 S. 700 West, Suite 8, SLC
(single origin, bean-to-bar; cacao brew)
651 S. Main Street, SLC
(single origin cacao brew)
1386 W. 70 South, Lindon
314 W. 300 South, SLC
1516 S. 1500 East, SLC
Liberty Heights Fresh
1290 S. 1100 East, SLC