Video: Valentine’s Day Wine and Chocolate Pairings

In the video chat above, Master Chocolatier Derrick Tu Tan Pho shares his tips for pairing wine and chocolate for Valentine’s Day and any other time of the year when you want to indulge.

He knows his sweet stuff having won gold at the Culinary Olympics in the categories of sugar, chocolate, wedding cakes and dessert presentation.

chocolate tart

How did you train for the culinary Olympics?

Your secrets to making great chocolate?

What is the strangest chocolate sculpture you’ve created?

Tell me about some of your specialized tools for making chocolate: induction burners, ganache frames, guitars, robot-coupes, heat guns and automatic enrobers?

What is cold fusion chocolate and beta crystals?

Here part two of our conversation on pairing wine and chocolate.

You can find Cococo stores in Canada and the US here, including the new store in Ottawa … I visited on the weekend and it’s lovely, especially for Valentine’s Day.

Derrick Tu Tan Pho is a Master Chocolatier who began his studies at the Montreal Culinary School and continued at the prestigious Ecole Lenotre Plaisir in France. He has been recognized as one of the Ten Best Pastry Chefs in Montreal as well as participating in the Frankfurt Culinary Olympics held in Germany, as a member of Team Quebec who brought home the gold in the categories of sugar, chocolate, wedding cakes and dessert presentation.

He is the former Director of the Chocolate Academy of Canada and the Ambassador for the artisanal producer Cococo Chocolatiers, the Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut® company based in Calgary but available across Canada and the US.

You may also enjoy these video chats:

Chocolate & Wine: Chocolate Sommelier Roxanne Browning talks about what artisanal chocolate is and how to pair with wine

Chocolate (Dark) & Wine: Roxanne Browning talks about this pairing plus the health benefits of chocolate

Icewine Pairings: Karen King suggests some unusual pairings for icewine such as chocolate and chili chips and wasabi peas

Canada AM CTV: wine and chocolate pairings

National Post: Valentine’s Day wine and chocolate pairings

Top 10

Wines for Valentine’s Day

(with Sexually Seductive Names)

You’ll also find lots of wine pairings for chocolate and chocolate-based desserts in the Drinks Matcher

Video: Valentine’s Day Wine and Chocolate Pairings

Natalie: Derrick Tu Tan Pho is a master chocolatier (maître chocolatier) who began his studies at the Montreal Culinary School and continued at the prestigious École Lenôtre Plaisir in France. He’s been recognized as one of the top 10 pastry chefs in Montreal as well as participating in the Frankfurt Culinary Olympics held in Germany as member of the Team Quebec. They brought home the gold in the categories of sugar, chocolate, wedding cakes and dessert presentation. He’s formerly the director of the Chocolate Academy of Canada and is now the ambassador for the artisanal producer Chocolaterie Bernard Cellebaut and Cococo based in Calgary but available across Canada and the US and with a few new stores that we’re going to mention today. He’s here with me to chat about pairing wine with chocolate especially for Valentine’s Day and other tasty topics, welcome Derrick!

Derrick: Thank you for inviting me.

Natalie: Our pleasure. Then let’s start with you, how do you train for a Culinary Olympics, Derrick?

Derrick: A lot of work, a lot of patience, a lot of passion. When we do this kind of competition sometimes it takes months and months of training for the gold. We trained for over a year to get to where we are.

Natalie: Are you practicing these elaborate creations over and over again to see how well you can do them, how quickly you can do them?

Derrick: Yes, how well, how quickly and not forgetting the taste. The judge is going to be judging the taste also. We’re trying to discover new ways to do it because technicality it is a lot of the mark.

Natalie: Okay, we’re going to get to that but just before we do. Is it true that you speak six different languages?

Derrick: Yes.

Natalie: Yes? Okay.

Derrick: I speak three different dialects in Chinese and Vietnamese, French and English.

Natalie: Wow! That must help in such an international career, knowing that you’re competing in all these different competitions.

Derrick: Yes, absolutely, it helped me throughout my 25-years in the business.

Natalie: Do you have any secrets about making chocolate? What do you think are some of the essential things about making great chocolate?

Derrick: First of all is the technicality. It’s so basic that you need to study. You need to really know what you’re doing. Most important of all are the ingredients. Always know the ingredients in the chocolate. Some chocolate is imitation. Some of them use palm oil,  palm kernel oil and so on.  But very important, using fresh ingredient is the key.

Natalie: Is 70% or higher cacao also a key to that?

Derrick: No, honestly we heard about dark chocolate, “Darker is better” but remember chocolate is an indulgent dessert, so most important is to choose the chocolate you like.

Natalie: Good, that’s my philosophy when it comes to wine. There’s no perfect wine including when it comes to pairing. It’s drink what you like. Tell me, Derrick, about one of the strangest chocolate sculptures that you’ve created?

Derrick: Strange? Oh my god. Yes, different. We did it in the 1994. My crew of pastry chefs and I build a cake for the 450th anniversary of Montreal.  It was a sculpture of over 2 tons of sugar and actually it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records in ’94.

Natalie: Really? So it’s a two-ton cake? What was kind of the design of it?

Derrick: Well basically we drew up Montreal in four phases. The first phase was a portrait of the Indian, The second phase was Christopher Columbus’ arrival in Canada and so on to the modern stage of the city.

Natalie: Wow, so you had all these designs on that cake. That must have been something. We’ll try to get a picture of that and put it on the blog post with this video. Did I hear correctly that you also created a chocolate statue of US President Obama?

Derrick: Yes, in fact before the election,  I was in New York City for the talk Saloirs Chocolat. At the last minute my boss  said to me, “Obama just become President, can you do his face in chocolate?” I said, “Okay, why not?” So we started and after a couple of hours we’re done.

Natalie: Wow, what is the particular challenge, doing a face in chocolate?

Derrick: Doing the face in chocolate is the most difficult. The expression …  everyone has different characteristic, different impression. Your paper picture is very difficult to get it as close as possible; that’s the challenge.

Natalie: Did people feel that you had captured, that they’d recognize it was Obama?   

Derrick: Yes, everyone that went by the stand said, “Oh! That is Obama.”

Natalie:  Well then you’re successful.

Derrick: Thank you.

Natalie: Tell me about your most memorable experience tasting chocolate. Where were you? What was the chocolate? Who were you with?

Derrick: Wow, There are so many memorable times. I was with one of my instructors who was my mentor, now he is retired. That was the first time he basically introduced me to good chocolate and that’s always in my memory.

Natalie: So you remember him kind of like a Master Yoda of chocolate.

Derrick: Exactly.

Natalie: I’ve been reading a bit about some tools you used and you’ve mentioned that technique is very important, the technical aspects. I have read about things like induction burners and ganache frames and guitar sheets and robot coupes. Tell me about some of these interesting tools that you use, what are they do?

Derrick: The robot coupe is basically  a food processor for industrial and for manufacture and they can make the ganache in 30 seconds. A ganache is basically the centre or filling of the chocolate, composed of cream, butter, chocolate, some flavour and some sugar. To put everything together you need to emulsify them and if you don’t have enough time to do it properly, you cannot use a whisk or spoon to mix it because here we’re talking emulsification. So the Robot Coupe helps us emulsify and in a streak of lightning, in 30 seconds the ganache is done. Piping the chocolate, industrially is going to be very time consuming, so we create a chocolate frame. When we use chocolate frame, we can pour the mixture into it  and cut them after to get the chocolate more in proportion, more even for the consumers. So no one is going to say, “Oh, I want the big piece.” Or “I want that bigger piece in the back.” You know just to make sure they are even.

Natalie: And what about an induction burner, how do you use that in chocolate making process?

Derrick: Induction burners heat up the cream quicker. If you use a home cooking burner or home stove, it takes too long to warm up the product. In warming up the liquid in the cream, you might take too long. Then you lose the water and water is very important for the texture in the ganache. An induction burner warms up the cream in 30-40 seconds and the cream is already boiling; so this helping for consistency and texture.

Natalie: It’s very high tech. Finally how about those heat guns, how do you use those?

Derrick: Heat guns help us to maintain our chocolate. We’re working with chocolate at room temperature. The surface temperature is  way cooler than the bottom. We use all kinds of air guns or heat guns to warm up the surface for the right consistency and to ensure that the chocolate gives you the complete sheen or finish.

Natalie: Now, what is snap? Is that as you bite?

Derrick: Exactly, as you bite the crystals in the chocolate or when you break them; you’re going to hear them, they really have a snap, a crack.

Natalie: Well, Derrick, this is fascinating. We’re going to move into the next part of this conversation. You’re going to show me some of the things that you’ve created for Valentine’s Day and we’re going to pair them up with a wine you’ve chosen and one I’ve chosen. So thank you for this today and we’ll get back with you soon.

Derrick: Thank you.

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