Berkeley "Truffle Queen" Alice Medrich Speaks at Chocolate Summit


Kristan Lawson

Berkeley-based author, dessert chef and chocolatier Alice Medrich was among the distinguished experts leading discussions on some of the artisanal-chocolate industry's hottest topics at a recent San Francisco summit staged by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association

It's interesting to ponder the issues driving an industry that provides the world with so much pleasure.

Medrich is credited with popularizing chocolate truffles in the USA during the 1970s. Her talk revolved around how to pair chocolate with other ingredients in bonbons and bars: Which such ingredients work -- and which don't? And how subjective is taste? A ghost-pepper bonbon, for instance, is heaven for some but hell for others. How to calculate the heaven-hell ratio and determine whether any such ingredient is worth the investment?

Other talks at the summit included "Understanding Cocoa Butter Quality"; "Equipment: Achieving Great Chocolate Texture and Mouth Feel"; "Heirloom Cacao Preervation"; "Grading Cacao Beans"; "Cacao Quality -- Developing Sensory Standards: Is It Possible?" and more. 

Among the other speakers -- representing a global range of companies including local outfits Guittard and TCHO -- were chocolatiers, business leaders, a cacao trader, a cacao grader, a biochemist, a cacao farmer, and administrators and graduates of noted chocolatiering academies including Canada's Ecole Chocolat and France's Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona.

So there are chocolate schools now? Who knew?

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