SINGLE CRU

Written by root. Posted in IN PERSON

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Published on May 05, 2019 with No Comments

Newly-crowned World Champion of the Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition 2018, Chef Yusuke Aoki of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, talks desserts and crafting his own chocolates.

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Congratulations on the win! For those unfamiliar with the competition, can you share with our readers a little bit about it?
The Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition, C3, was organised by Valrhona and took place at the StarChefs Congress in New York. This competition is open to hotel and restaurant professionals from all over the world. Forty-six countries competed last year, and we had to present 10 plates each of pre-dessert and main dessert using Valrhona chocolate.

Your dessert entries combined Balinese elements such as kaffir lime with Japanese influences, such as Sansho pepper and kombu seaweed. Where did you draw inspiration from?
I like to get some ideas from kitchen chefs, not only pastry chefs, as kitchen chefs have very different ways of looking at flavour combination. My executive chef and I came up with the idea of combining kombu seaweed with dark chocolate after several times in our trial period.

Going into competitions such as these and playing with chocolates, how do you find the balance between creativity while still having your eye on the ball?
Taste and texture is the most important thing for desserts. This must not be compromised and should exceed its looks. I am always focusing on that.

Word has it you are now busily crafting chocolates with Balinese cacao. What can you tell us about this?
We have beautiful cocoa beans on the island. It has a very unique note with touches of banana and spices. At the moment we are still in the process of trial and error – finding the perfect cocoa farm that is able to support our resort needs.

We started producing small quantities of 64% chocolate for our VIP guests and some special events. This year we are looking to develop more in our produce kitchen. Bali’s weather is very challenging for all the (chocolate) stages; humidity is the biggest enemy of the chocolate!

As a Japanese working in Bali, what do you bring to your craft?
Perfection and patience are the two most important things for working with chocolate. Japanese are at least good on these two! In Indonesia, Japanese culture and food are very common and familiar, so we have many products in the resort with yuzu, matcha green tea, etc.

Describe chocolates in your own words and why you are a chocolate fanatic?
I consider chocolate or cacao as a fruit. It has a season, terroir, similar like wine. Each chocolate has completely different character. That enables us as a pastry chef full of imagination and creativity.

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