When tasting a premium chocolate bar, the first thing you want to do is close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Not one or two or four, mind you... three. We know three is the ideal number of breaths because world-renowned chocolatier Katrina Markoff says it is. When you open your eyes, your mind will be at rest, ready to welcome the scrumptious sensory input the chocolate is poised to deliver.
Ah, but not so fast, says Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, one of National Geographic’s “10 Best Chocolatiers in the World.” Before popping that delicious delicacy into your mouth, you’ll want to break off a little piece of the bar and look at it, carefully examining the color and the texture. Really taking the measure of the munchie.
Then rub the chocolate between your fingers, warming it, releasing the rich aromatics. Bring it to your nose and take a good whiff or two. Now you’re primed to partake. Have a bite, roll the chocolate about and press it to the roof of your mouth. Let it melt. Process that. Now swallow. Once the chocolate has settled into your stomach, take a “sip” of air and hold it a second, savoring it. That’ll give a lingering taste of the chocolate.
Now that you’ve properly and clinically assessed the merits of the chocolate, feel free to tap into your hungry inner-child and devour the rest of the bar with abandon (that last tasting tip is all ours, by the way).
Once upon a time — specifically three days after graduating from Vanderbilt University — Katrina traveled to Paris to pursue her dream of studying the culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu. From there she then embarked on an epic global trek that began in Spain, where she apprenticed for one of the most celebrated chefs of modern times, Ferran Adrià of El Bulli fame. Katrina went on to travel extensively through Southeast Asia and Australia, along the way absorbing and collecting an array of sights, scents and flavors that would inform her intriguing chocolate creations. Indeed, by fusing indigenous spices, flowers, roots, herbs and liqueurs with premium chocolate, she has created a sensory experience that nurtures awareness of and appreciation for the world’s diverse cultures.
And the world has taken notice. In addition to the nod from National Geographic, Katrina has been named one of “The Top 100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, one of Fortune magazine’s “40 Under 40,” and the recipient of the Bon Appétit “Food Artisan of the Year” award. Food & Wine magazine dubbed her “THE innovator in chocolate to lead the US through the next 30 years,” and OPEN American Express and Entrepreneur magazine honored her as “Woman Entrepreneur of theYear.”
Did we mention how amazing the chocolate is? Because it’s pretty freakin’ amazing! Of course, you get to taste for yourself, as this month’s edition of Vices comes correct with a trio of tantalizing chocolate bars from Vosges: Black Salt Caramel, with a molten center of burnt sugar caramel infused with house-made black cacao sea salt, encased in dark chocolate; Raw Honey Cacao, a divinely decadent experience; and Turmeric Ginger, blended with golden milk botanicals, crispy coconut, and Telicherry peppercorns in deep milk chocolate.
Vosges Haut-Chocolat is a certified organic manufacturing facility that operates on 100% renewable energy. Katrina and her team use only ingredients with sustainable merit and packaging made of 100% post-consumer recycled material. They source chocolate from carefully selected suppliers, many of whom are organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified. Vosges Haut-Chocolat recently planted their first crop of cacao in Belize, which will allow the brand to oversee the entire value chain from root to bar. The chocolate confections are crafted in a production facility in Chicago.
Katrina firmly believes that protecting human rights is the shared responsibility of all parties in the cocoa industry, and she expects and demands her suppliers and business partners to champion and uphold fair labor standards and policies.
Her primary mission, though, is to harness the power of storytelling to open minds, spirits and palates through esteemed chocolate, inspiring us all to interact with the world in a new and creative way.
How’s that for leaving a good taste in your mouth?