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10. Magic wand question.  If you could order the production of any plain dark chocolate bar(s), what would you like to see made and who would make it for you?

Candice Alstrom
Patric's Salty Signature Seventy. Probably the best salted bar of chocolate I have ever had. Dark Madagascar chocolate with blends of salt from the Meadow in NY. It's a near perfect bar of chocolate with the balance of salt and that fruity sweetness of Madagascar beans.

David Arnold
I’ve often asked myself this very question. I wish there were more grower/artisan makers like Claudio Corallo in all growing regions reinventing chocolate from the ground up. I don’t want to see one type or style of chocolate but an enormous variety of fine chocolate that takes into account local variations. If done exceptionally well and with care and innovation that’s the chocolate I would most want to experience.

Debbie Ceder
Not being a chocolate maker or chef, I hesitate to dictate to those with more experience in the industry.  Plus, it seems like maybe there are already chocolate makers experimenting in so many different ways, that nothing I could come up with would be unique or different.  If I were to come up with a product line tailored to my preferences, I would need to know a whole lot more than I do now about the factors that affect my tastes.  That requires a lot of research and time.  Tcho started doing nearly this when they began. They started off with a goal of a certain type of flavor, sent out micro-batches to “beta-tasters” for their opinions, and utilized their feedback to perfect the recipe they eventually settled on for each particular flavor. Fresco is producing bars in parallel with identical percentages and origins, but modifying the roast and conch factors so consumers can compare the different flavor potentials.  I’d love to see deVries come back into production and continue what he started.  I’d love to be able to taste chocolate from all the cacao-producing countries of the world at some point, in single origin products that enhance the natural flavor of the beans produced there. Coppeneur and Pralus have extraordinary lines already started that covers a large number of these in a consistently expert manner.  Not knowing enough about the effects of blending, I wouldn’t dream of trying to ask for something particular when makers like Soma have been producing exceptional blends in their Black Science line for some time.  In short, I’m happy to let the experts continue to satisfy their own discriminating palates.  That seems to satisfy me quite well, too.

Vic Ceder
I'd like Rogue to produce more single source origin bars, more often. 

I wish Patric didn't experiment with odd ingredients such as peanut butter. 

I like malted milk, and would like a premium chocolatier to make an excellent bar with it.

1) I would like to have my favorite makers each make a batch of bars, at the same percentage (75%), from the same lot of high quality beans. I would have Rogue, Fresco, French Broad Chocolate, and Soma all make bars from the same crop of “true Chuao”, feral Bolivian beniano, or Peruvian Piura beans. (The label “Chuao” has been so broadened and misused that I need clarify that these would be the “authentic” pedigree Chuao beans that are dried in the church courtyard in Chuao.) It would be really fun to compare the maker styles even more distinctly with bars made from the same beans!

2) With a magic wand here are some other things that I would also like to see happen:

* If I had a time machine I would get back the 2009 Amedei Chuao bar. This is my all time favorite bar! Sadly, my enjoyment of the current Amedei Chuao bars has significantly decreased.
* I would also like to taste the Rogue Piura bar again. The 2010 vintage bar was magical! (It is one of my Top 5 All Time Favorite bars; rated 9.8 out of 10!)
* I would like to see what Fresco could do with the feral beniano beans from Bolivia.
* I would like quality to always trump marketing.

Mark Xian
Not a magic wand question at all… I’m actually working on transmuting this fantasy into a reality. Stay tuned. Caveat: most super-blends are disappointments (Centenario by Felchlin) if not dismal failures (CCN as far as a hybrid blueprints go).

Scott of Dallas Food
I'd give Rogue, DeVries, and Soma all of the resources of Hacienda San José, Chuao, and the Rizek group.

Chloe Doutre-Roussel
Ideally collaborate for months with a choco maker that controls quite a lot his machines. To experiment together various parameters on the machines on different beans- more than the final result, I would adore to learn from the process of making it and share this with the public, not only the chocolate.

George Gensler
I think it would be interesting to see what Pacari could make with Sur del Lago beans and what Rogue could do with Porcelana.

Maricel Presilla
Of course, I would like to make my own bar. This is something that I would love to do. But most of all, I would like to be a tree-to-bar company in a cacao producing country, which is impossible, because I live in Weehawken, New Jersey. But I dream of living in a cacao growing country and owning a small factory just like the one Santiago Peralta has in Quito. I want something small to medium size and source my own cacao. I would prefer to have my own farm and choose my own varietals. That would be my ideal situation.

The alternative would be to work with farms that I really love. I would choose Venezuela because I have a history with this country and I know exactly where I would go to create a farm or buy from a particular farm that I already know. I’d probably do it with my old partners because I trust them. If I were in the U.S. and did not have the way to make my own chocolate I’d probably work with Art and go to Orem and spend whatever time is necessary there. I’d move in essentially to see what Art does with my cacao. Art would be happy with the arrangements and probably asked me to cook in exchange for the intrusion. If were doing it in Venezuela I’d do it with El Rey and if I were to have my chocolate made in Ecuador, I would also check what Santiago is doing. In all cases, it would be great fun.

For someone like me, who preaches about great chocolate, it would almost be hypocritical to sit in my office and make a phone call to order a bag of beans that I have not seen or from a farm that I have not explored completely or visited many, many times. Probably I would have made my own chocolate already, if I still had a relationship with La Concepción, but the farm was invaded. It would have been so natural for me to get my own beans from La Concepción and maybe open my own little factory here in Hoboken. I knew that farm inside out; that farm was like my backyard. I helped my partners create their protocol for fermentation and drying. Every improvement of that farm had to go through me first so if I made my own chocolate, it would have been technically a tree-to-bar operation. These things are now far in the past due to political problems. I still have that craving to make my own chocolate and I might just get some equipment to make it for fun. I’m not going to say that I won’t do it, or that I’m above anyone because my standards are so high. But it would not be entirely satisfying if I had to get someone to do it for me. It would not make me happy, but if I can do it myself I would be in seventh heaven!

Alex Rast
I'd have to make it myself - there would be no other way of ensuring the level of process control I'd want. Then, I'd want to try to source the following, and possibly more, beans/origins:


Ecuador Arriba
Colombia Nacional
Dominican Republic Trinitario
Papua New Guinea

I'm simplifying this picture radically because the first step would be to go and isolate specific plantations in each of these regions that produced the very finest cacao. Then I'd isolate the specific *trees* within these plantations that produced the best flavour. These would then be planted and investigated for disease resistance as well as flavour - not such that disease resistance would be allowed to trump flavour, but with an eye to finding those top-flavoured cacaos that also had a realistic chance in actual plantation conditions.

Then, I'd experiment with fermentation and drying techniques until I found that combination that produced the largest scope of possible high-quality flavour results. So far what I've been describing is the methodology that a company: Xoco, that must be considered the state-of-the-art in fine bean growing, is following.

Having arrived at my ultimate source beans, I'd then receive the finished sacks of beans, carefully separated by bean type and origin. Now, with the first few batches, I'd experiment with most conceivable combinations of process - roast, conche, grind, mix, you name it. I would also set up facilities for cocoa butter separation - critical if you want to have a chocolate whose cocoa butter comes from the same source as the beans themselves. This would also permit selling a limited amount of single-source cocoa powder. I'd find a series of process points that again, led to the optimum flavour development. I'd then produce both a limited number of single-source bars and a set of blends, both at various percentages - a "sweet", "bittersweet", "extra-bitter", and "unsweetened". There would likewise be corresponding milk bars (a similarly exhaustive search for milk would be in order). This part of the process is the methodology that most starting fine chocolate manufacturers adopt, more or less - Amano, Red Star, etc. etc.

You'll note that in spite of the neurotic level of obsession, almost all of what I've described is already being done. I've deliberately gone through the agonising level of detail to highlight the utter obsessiveness you have to have to succeed in the business - and to suggest that it is indeed rather probable that your "ideal" bar *is already being made*, in a way. But I also want to point out that your *exact* own personal ideal is something only you could make. Each manufacturer creates their own style which is their personal interpretation of the ideal. But have no illusions, you will *never* do any better yourself unless you are prepared to take on the same level of obsession, and probably dedicate 10 years of your life or more. So instead of trying to create the ultimate "bespoke" bar (which is probably a case of wishful thinking anyway), it might be more interesting to explore what bars the *real* obsessives: the manufacturers, are already making. Which is where I came into this game...

Richard Vaughan
I’m interested in tasting and comparing chocolate differing primarily by genetics. I’d like to have Art Pollard of Amano and Colin Gasko of Rogue find a source for quality cacao for each of 11 known genetic clusters and craft two bars of chocolate: a 100% bar and one made with only added cane sugar. I trust them to experiment and discover the best chocolate making process for each batch of cacao.

Ian Whitaker
If I had a (very powerful) magic wand, I’d teleport all of the cacaofèviers whose chocolates have received three stars, the highest recognition in the World Chocolate Awards, along with all of their equipment, to one giant workshop. Then have them collaborate on a several blends and several single origin chocolates using any beans in the world that they desired. Imagine how exciting and interesting it would be to see such a spectacular event, as well as to taste the results!