Everything began on a beautiful Wednesday in Paris, October 28, 2015 to be exact. On this date, ATELIER C opened its doors for the first time under the Viaduc des Arts. Parisians were invited to discover some secret and rare chocolates in the new concept-store. Among these Parisians, a young chocolatier named Stan entered the room and met the intrepid chocolate master Christophe Berthelot-Sampic. Later Christophe B becomes a critical component to the chocolate hacker code and actually a mentor to Stan!
Who is Christophe B? He is an avid chocolate lover, has a passion to travel across the world, between the two tropics, in search of the most rare and exquisite chocolates. Some of his preferences? He likes the chocolate of Cuba for its subtle cigar aroma, the chocolate of Equator for the sweet banana flavor, the chocolate of Vietnam for the coconut taste, but the one that excites him the most is the red luscious fruit chocolate of Madagascar… Not only is the taste tantalizing but he also respects how the chocolate making process is made in the country of origin, a guarantee for both quality and fair economy. He fell in love with the Chocolaterie Robert factory in Antananarivo where craftsmanship is still preserved. For the above reasons, he chose with confidence Madagascar chocolate to create his new recipes in his freshly opened chocolate lab in Paris.
As the year progressed, Stan assisted Christophe in the chocolates confection. The more he worked with the Madagascar chocolate, the more he was hypnotized by its red luscious fruit flavor. After only a few months, Stan took part in a unique adventure to venture to the land of the original, Madagascar the land of the cocoa. And me… – “the geek behind my screen” – had the pleasure to the join the two of them for this extraordinary adventure.
Here we were three companions on the quest of fine cocoa travelling across the island, in the end of the rainy season, via inaccessible and rather dangerous roads, to seak the finest root of the precious tree. From the factory in Antananarivo we travelled east to visit the old plantations in Brickaville and then finally headed north to Sambirano valley where the epicenter of the of cocoa lies. We met as many farmers as we could. Each individual farmer revealed extraordinary valuable information on what makes cocoa of Madagascar so special. One especially memorable meeting was with Monsieur Michel, the memory of Sambirano valley, who has been there since the early days. He planted the first trees on this land, knows the age of each tree, and knows the name of every plot and all the colonial history behind it.
As we attentively listened to M Michel; under the shade of a Samanea Saman tree, we realized that we were truly surrounded by the magic of this land. The dominant variety trinitario is full of mystery to unravel which makes it a perfect playground for Chocolate Hackers. As we headed back to Chocolaterie Robert factory in Antananarivo, we decided to load our luggage with as much chocolate as we could to continue our adventure onward.
We need you to help us hack the chocolate code. Are you up for the mission? Here is the mission: infiltrate the local producers network in search of amazing flavors to create new innovative recipes and hack the chocolate code. Ready, Set, Go!