Varun Inamdar on how to keep chocolate innovative and interesting

Chef and chocolatier Varun Inamdar set the bar high at FBAI Dialogues with his master perspective on working with chocolate

11 Jan 2017

Anyone in the country who knows his cacao from his cocoa, knows who Chef Varun Inamdar is. A trained multi-cuisine Oberoi chef, a food stylist and a cook book author, Varun is also a chocolatier par excellence, widely respected in culinary circles as an authority on all things chocolate. He has represented the country at various cocoa forums across the world and he has been the cocoa ambassador for Ecuador, a country that is home to one of the finest chocolates of the world. As he engaged the audience at the FBAI Dialogues 2016 in his usual light-hearted style, it became evident why his sobriquet 'Prince of Chocolate' is so very befitting. Vikhroli Cucina shares six important insights from Varun Inamdar for professionals looking to work with chocolate.

Be brave, think different

Chocolate is every man's sweet tooth, and there are dozens of flavours. That's why it's important to think out of the box when it comes to chocolate. Instead of blindly following trends or jumping on the clichéd bandwagon, go beyond. Varun suggested chocolate pancakes with fenugreek or a mint chocolate candy flavoured with kachampuli.

Taste is timeless

Innovation is important but professionals working with chocolate should never forget that taste is the ultimate parameter. It is second to none, and there can never be a time or a trend where it is not the priority.

Value versus volume

It is important to favour value over volume, a fact that professionals often forget in the race to make money and represent brands. Varun shared a caveat with the audience: The moment professionals start getting investments as a freelancer or as a start-up operation, they forget that value should not be sacrificed for volumes.

Know your bean

Ghana, Ecuador, Madagascar, Vietnam or El Salvador, where did that bean come from? The pedigree of the cocoa is an important factor for chocolatiers. The origin of the bean will help determine the percentages of the beans that will go into the chocolate, and this will influence the final flavours and textures.

Balanced health

The world is moving towards healthier alternatives for sweeteners, like stevia leaves, agave syrup, jaggery, molasses or coconut sugar. But Varun reminded the audience that chocolate is extremely sensitive, as a medium or a cocoa mass. A little addition here and a tweak there can completely change the complexity of the chocolate.

Tell the story

Chocolate is an art form and when you create something, it's important to build a storyboard. Varun explained that often chocolatiers fail to engage the consumers by creating a story around their culinary creation. If the idea behind your creation does not reach the consumer in the intended manner, you have lost the plot!

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