With the holiday season approaching, many are sure to consider a box of chocolates as a gift. But how much is commonly known about chocolate? Geoseph Domenichiello, a chocolate sommelier and chocolatier, will be hosting a chocolate sensory workshop Dec. 17 to provide chocolate lovers with some answers.
Domenichiello is of Italian descent and grew up in Woodbridge, Ontario. After studying biology and art history at the University of Toronto, Domenichiello went on to study at George Brown College to pursue his passion for food. Ten years ago, he took on a position as a chocolate sommelier, and his love for chocolate has only grown since then. Domenichiello realized that many people don’t fully understand artisan chocolate.
“If they’re going to pay substantial money, I feel like people should know what makes it worth the money,” says Domenichiello.
Domenichiello started his own tasting workshops earlier this year and hosts them twice a month. Similar to artisan wine or coffee, artisan chocolate can intimidate would-be consumers and create challenges when deciding what kind of chocolate to buy. Domenichiello hopes that his workshops will be able to expand people’s perspectives on chocolate and give them confidence in their chocolate choices.
“If you don’t know a lot, you won’t be able to appreciate it,” says Domenichiello.
His workshops differentiate themselves from other chocolate tasting workshops due to the amount of information he presents to participants on the history and production of chocolate.
“I feel this heightens the appreciation of chocolate and we focus on using all five senses to enjoy the chocolate,” says Domenichiello.
Each workshop starts with a discussion of the varieties of chocolate and cacao, the main features in each step of the chocolate production process, why it’s important in determining the quality of the chocolate and what can go wrong in the process. Then Domenichiello goes through the history of chocolate and how it evolved to be the chocolate that we consume today.
Domenichiello explains that flavour is created in our brains and not in food so the actions performed while tasting the chocolate help highlight all the flavours and allows the brain to receive the correct information. Participants will sit down together and Domenichiello will guide them through each chocolate tasted. The chocolate presented will be dark, vegan and gluten free.
“My approach is that I’m giving you the tools to learn how to taste and then you tell me what you tasted,” says Domenichiello. “Most of the people in the group will give me flavours that are contained in the bar.”
A growing industry
The purpose of the exercise is to provide an inclusive environment to give participants the confidence to express themselves and to leave with an appreciation of chocolate.
Domenichiello says that the feedback on his workshops have been positive with some people coming to the workshop hesitant to try dark chocolate due to previous bad experiences but leaving with a newfound appreciation. According to Domenichiello, the chocolate industry is growing and he would like to focus on educating the world about it and decrease misconceptions about chocolate.
“I want to give people the facts and help them make smarter choices when purchasing chocolate,” says Domenichiello.
Currently Domenichiello is working as a chocolatier at Mon Paris, a fairly new French pastry shop in Burnaby. One day he hopes to open his own chocolate shop with a focus on drinking chocolate.
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