What makes chocolate innovative?

photo of chocolate grinding from tōcōti chocolate
photo of chocolate grinding from tōcōti chocolate

What makes chocolate innovative? Is it an unexpected flavor or texture, or an unexpected pairing? My quest was to find out (but first I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming) and write a story for Rochester Magazine about chocolate!

For a little while, I got to be Charlie (or Charlene) in not one chocolate factory, but two where I experienced the art of making chocolate – asking questions, listening to the chocolatiers’s stories, learning about the process, and, of course, tasting chocolate.

Both chocolatiers I interviewed had very different backgrounds. Dale Montondo of tōcōti (pronounced TOE-koe-tee) chocolate is an engineer who grinds and roasts beans into inventive, flavorful chocolate bars. Alex Vigneri of Vigneri Chocolate is a former semi-pro hockey player from a close-knit family of Italian bakers. Both chocolatiers have little in common with each other, except for two things: a passion for making the best chocolate they can and an insatiable curiosity. Like the long line of chocolate innovators before them (and constant tinkering to make it better), it’s this combination that’s driving innovation in an industry that might seem devoid of novel ideas. And they’re right here in Rochester, NY.

Quarrels wine complementing chocolate kit
Quarrels wine complementing chocolate kit

If you haven’t read your copy of Rochester Magazine’s April issue, my short article “Don’t scarf the chocolate,” appears on page 8. You can’t read it online unless you buy the app for the iPad (not available for iPhone, sorry Mom). However, because you are a subscriber to my blog, you can read the article here. Once you’re finished reading, why not go out and buy a copy of Rochester Magazine or the iPad app? Oh, and don’t forget to try the chocolate!

What do you think?

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