11 Extraordinary Chocolatiers Transforming Chocolate into Art Forms
Everyone knows that chocolate and love are forever tied. But what about the marriage between art and chocolate? It’s a relationship that dates back to incredible decorative vessels the Aztecs created for what they considered the “food of gods”, or the exquisite chocolate pots used in European courts when hot chocolate was the most sought-after tonic for royalty.
But decorative arts weren’t the only expression of the infinite power of chocolate. Picasso was inspired to paint a chocolate pot in his Cubist period. A chocolate grinder made appearances in several of Marcel Duchamp’s works. During the Fluxus movement, Joseph Beuys, known for his use of unconventional materials like felt, fat, and flashlights, would seal letters with it. Pop artist Ed Ruscha executed a series of drawings and paintings using chocolate and other organic materials, macerating chocolate and rose petals into a new type of paint. His pièce de résistance, however, was his “Chocolate Room,” an entire room clad in sheets of paper silk-screened with chocolate for the 1970 Venice Biennale. Today, the artist Vik Muniz uses the syrup to create his portraits.
This Valentine’s Day, expert chocolatiers around the world are blurring lines between art and chocolate with incredible creations that are almost too beautiful to eat.
No one transforms chocolate into an art form quite like dessert genius Patrick Roger. The legendary, Parisian chocolatier considers himself an artist, whose medium just happens to be edible. His shops, including his latest on Paris’s rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré designed by rising star Lina Ghotmeh, tend to look more like art galleries than boutiques. For Valentine’s Day, he’s dreamed up a magnificent chocolate heart garnished with a selection of ganaches, pralines, and marzipans. Additionally, true to his passion for sculpture, he’s offering four sculpted monkeys playing on the ideas of the three wise monkeys adding a fourth for matters of love. patrickroger.com
The exceptional works conjured by New York Chef Gabriel Kreuther and his namesake restaurant’s pastry chef Marc Aumont reveal striking inspiration from art as well. These caramelized milk chocolate bars with vanilla toffee pieces are an ode to Robert Indiana’s Love with a Jackson Pollock finish. kreutherchocolate.com
The Los Angeles chocolatier unveiled a new Kelly Wearstler-designed space just in time for the holiday at Westfield Century City. For the 430-square foot jewel box, Wearstler reinterpreted European chocolate shops of the early 1900s with a California lens. Her signature brilliant mix of materials is on display with patinated copper, honed and tumbled marble, brass, onyx, and Venetian plaster as well as Louise Nevelson-inspired geometric cut-outs made of wood, glass domes hand blown by Anna Karlin, and custom ceramic bowls by L.A. artist Morgan Peck. Wearstler also collaborated on two special Valentine’s Day bars: Fresia with milk chocolate-covered strawberries and Ingénue with dark chocolate salted caramel in her signature lips. kellywearstler.com/edibles
For those interested in a lovers’ stroll, La Maison du Chocolat created a chocolate collection inspired by Parisian gardens. The luxury chocolate house draws on the orangeries and rows of lindens that symbolize the romantic city. The four new chocolate creations, including flavors such as a dark chocolate ganache with a blood orange infusion and milk chocolate with delicate floral flavors, come packaged in a charming box with watercolors by French illustrator Kim Roselier. lamaisonduchocolat.us/en_us/
New York native Cey Adams who was part of the 1980s-downtown graffiti movement with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring and former creative director of Def Jam Recordings, has collaborated with weR2 and MarieBelle in a 16-piece box set of ganaches. The graphic artworks exclaiming “Love” are rendered in four bold colorways for special chocolates only available through weR2. A portion of the proceeds from weR2 projects will be given to charitable organizations such as God’s Love We Deliver. wer2-studio.com
These incredible cake and chocolate creations by Los Angeles-based Valerie call to mind the beautiful rose petal artwork of Sarah Mehoyas. For these special treats, four layers of vanilla scented cake are layered with rose and passion fruit ganache, covered in white chocolate, and garnished with a candied rose petal. An online exclusive at Dean and Deluca. deandeluca.com/rose-petal-petits-fours
Spice expert Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boîte joined forces with gourmet chocolatier Christopher Curtin of Éclat for a special botanical collection packaged with artwork by Nadine Westcott. These spice-driven delicacies are for super foodies wanting to explore esoteric combinations of flavors. Borneo N. 26, for example, features accents of long pepper, lemon, and mace; Desert Rose incorporates halvah, rose petals, and sesame; and Reims N. 39 pairs chocolate with star anise, ginger, and cinnamon. laboiteny.com
San Francisco-based Recchiuti Confections has created a whiskey pairing collection featuring nine pieces of chocolate that comes with descriptions of the chocolate with advice on the best whiskey with which to sample each. Fleur de sel caramel, for example, could be paired with barrel-aged bourbon, while a Kona coffee, dark milk chocolate ganache is perfectly suited for enjoying with blended whiskey. recchiuti.com
As many great artists will admit, masterpieces take time. Master chef Thomas Keller, known for celebrated restaurants French Laundry and Per Se, dedicated five years to perfecting his chocolate bar with Tuscan olive oil producer Armando Manni. The result is a truly unique chocolate bar that launched two years ago. The crisp clean lines and minimalist packaging belie the bar’s complex nature. The pair developed a special formulation to retain the antioxidant benefits of cocoa beans—most chocolate processes today reduce those benefits by up to 60%. Beans are sourced directly from farmers and processed in a signature method developed by the University of Florence and handcrafted in Napa Valley. And the use of olive oil instead of cocoa butter gives a silken texture and highlights the true flavor of the cacao bean flavors. kellermannichocolate.com
Portland-based Alma chocolate created this dazzling gold-leafed, solid dark chocolate heart. The small-batch chocolatier uses single-origin, dark Dominican chocolate in hand molds that are then covered in edible 23-karat gold leaf. mouth.com/products/amor-chocolate-heart
And for those who would rather eat cake, there’s a dazzling chocolate option at New York’s recently opened café and bakery La Mercerie. Chef Marie-Aude Rose creates sublime pastries treated in a refined-but-elegant fashion that’s oh-so French. This Valhrona chocolate is so simple the chef makes it with her children. When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, the adjoined Roman and Williams homewares shop Guild offers endless options for chic candleholders, throws, and all manner of accessories as well as luscious blooms by Emily Thompson Flowers. rwguild.com