Our Nico has a passion for everything food. He trained in France, in the coastal city of La Rochelle. He started working as a pastry chef 18 years ago and has experience working with some of the best chefs in the world. One of them being French master chef Pierre Gagnaire. Nico was Head Pastry Chef to a team of 11 at the two Michelin Star restaurant, Sketch, in London. Here he adopted Gagnaire’s culinary philosophy: honesty, sincerity and integrity. Before this he worked in Relais & Châteaux restaurants in the USA and the Coutanceau group in France.
Nico was attracted to New Zealand because of his love for rugby and here he has worked as Head Pastry Chef for Kauri Cliffs and at Peter Gordon’s Sugar Club at the Sky Tower.
Each piece of Nico’s chocolate is hand crafted using his perfected skills, knowledge and creativity. His style is influenced by a variety of cultures and cuisine and his attention to detail and high standards means his chocolate will be some of the best you have ever tasted.
Nico has been busy making batches of water ganache and testing different flavours. So far the clear favourite is lime and coconut milk (or mylk if you live in Ponsonby). The coconut gives the bonbon a creamy centre and the lime delivers a fresh burst of citrus that cuts through the rich chocolate.
He has also added desiccated coconut within the ganache to add some texture. Yuuuuum! Now he's just gotta work on how to make it look as good as it tastes :-)
On Sunday we went for a lovely long lunch at Brick Bay.
We justified the bottle of wine and dessert by walking the sculpture trail afterwards. We did the obvious guess the price game with all the sculptures and regularly liked the cheapest ones! What does that tell you?!
During our walk we got a bit peckish (the truffle oil fries obviously wasn't enough to maintain stamina on a 1 hour walk) so we snacked on some of the native leaves. We found kawakawa and what we think was kanuka, which led us to think about other flavour possibilities for our chocolates using foraged leaves and flowers.
Since then we've been doing some research and came across some chocolate dipped kawakawa fruit. Mmm...delicious! Can’t wait for summer when they are in season to try some.
We love New Zealand. After arriving here for the first time almost 10 years ago, we still believe it is the best country to live in. We fell in love with the ever changing and ever stunning landscapes and still pinch ourselves when we see the sky smattered with so many stars on a clear night or get a fleeting glimpse of a rainbow that stretches from one side of the sky to the other.
When we decided to start our business in this great land we wanted to find ways of making our product as Kiwi as a French man and an English girl could. We believe our Honest Chocolat represents the purity of the air and the water found here. And being foodies ourselves we know of many local growers and producers that we can work with to source good quality ingredients.
But we also wanted to come up with something that is even more Kiwi than that. Where better to find it than on our doorstep in the bush clad hills of Mahurangi. Drum roll please… kawakawa. We wanted to make a chocolate ganache using the medicinal native herb that would give a distinctly New Zealand flavour. The peppery and citrus notes are perfect at complimenting our chocolate.
Watch this space, as we develop our other New Zealand inspired pairings.
Traditionally a ganache is made of varying ratios of chocolate and cream. It is French in origin (of course!) and is very versatile in its uses. It can be made thick for filling truffles or thin to act as a glaze for cakes. Here at Honest Chocolat we approach ganaches differently and simply use filtered water instead of cream. Many people think chocolate and water don’t mix but if the right techniques are used then the same indulgent, velvety texture can be achieved without any of the dairy.
But surely this results in a bitter dark chocolate that no one would actually choose to eat? Absolutely, if a crap chocolate has been used! With a water ganache the quality of the chocolate is no longer masked by the fat of the cream, so it cannot hide. We select great tasting chocolate with fine aromatic flavours that are brought to the fore by turning it into our ganache. The flavour is bright and clean, rich and decadent.
Added benefits are that our chocolates are vegan, gluten free and have less calories compared to a traditional ganache. We work with local suppliers of fruits, herbs and spices to come up with different flavoured truffles (the round ones) and bonbons (the square ones) and hand decorate them to make them look as good as they taste.