Slurrp Exclusive- Chocolatier Emmanuel On Exploring Indian Flavours
Image Credit: Facebook/Chocolatier Emmanuel Hamon

Chocolatier Emmanuel Hamon who is recognized for his original creations in chocolate, is one of the rare pastry chefs chocolatiers in the world. His caramels are sold throughout France and abroad, including New York and Osaka. Today. He is one pastry chef, chocolatier, recognized by the public and appreciated for its creativity and modernity. With his experience and creativity, Emmanuel is collaborating since this year with the international society "PAVONI ITALIA", specializes in molds and pastry decoration. From their products, Emmanuel develops creations, visual and recipes that are available on their site. Stepping further he has also collaborated with SMOOR, an Indian chocolate brand, that’s al about true couverture chocolates and more that’s from real and authentic ingredients concocted by master chocolatiers from around the world.

What has been your inspiration being you becoming a pastry chef /Chocolatier?

I don’t know how and why but the first time I told my parents I wanted to be a pastry chef was when I was 8 years old. Maybe because I have always loved and loved eating cakes in my childhood. I was also creative as a child and would love to draw. Cake making is also an art so in some ways the two things I enjoyed the most seemed to fit perfectly well if I became a pastry chef! I started apprenticing from the time I was 15 ½ years old (the earliest you can apprentice and work in France) and loved the process. While I apprenticed with many bakers and chefs, I enjoyed making cakes and chocolates the most and was clear I would only want to make those. 

Being a pastry chef allows you to be innovative. You are always trying new flavours, new textures, new shapes, new garnishes. I personally think you can innovate the most here vs other food industries. 

Tell us something about your association with SMOOR?

SMOOR is a young company with a great range of products and they have the ambition to grow much beyond from where they are now. When I spoke to Vimal (Vimal Sharma, Founder Director & CEO, SMOOR Chocolates) I realised he is committed to not only grow his business but also grow the chocolate market in India. Now that is not only very ambitious but is also not the most easy. I was moved by his vision and his passion to lead and innovate in the category. His passion was a boost for me to consider working with the brand and help him build his vision. 

What kinds of global flavours will now be available to Indian consumers via the association with SMOOR?

Actually, I am here to explore Indian flavours – today everyone seems to be doing international flavours but I think there is so much opportunity in Indian flavours. The variety, the possibilities of flavour pairings – India offers them all. Price is also an important factor here – people want to try new international flavours but the number of people wanting to do so is limited and hence the cost may become prohibitive. What we need Is more players trying international flavours for them to become popular. I don’t cook in one way. I love experimenting. Too many international flavours may not do well. Like in France, the Mont Blanc French pastry is made with chestnuts. Now to introduce that in India may not work as chestnut has an unique flavour that will be alien to India and may not appeal too. 

The other thing I noticed is how Indian’s love crunch and texture. And I have kept that in mind when I developed the different pralines to get that crunch in the chocolates and cakes I am designing for SMOOR.

While designing something interesting and new, what all things do you keep in mind?

I actually do not have a set process. Sometimes some ingredients are the reason why I develop a product. Like I did with the curry leaf in India. Also sometimes it could be a design I saw and I want to take inspiration from it and design & shape a dessert around it. So inspiration can come from anywhere – ingredients, taste, design and form.

How do you like your chocolate?

Earlier I used to enjoy dark chocolate, but even then I could not go beyond a 70% dark chocolate as my personal flavour choice. I notice that as I grow older, I prefer milk chocolate. I like eating single origin chocolates too where the chocolate gets an unique flavour based on the territory or region it comes from and the kind of area it grows in with other fruits and spices. 

Also, I prefer my chocolate plain and not necessarily with too many ingredients that may mask the chocolate taste. 

What is your take in working with local homegrown products?

I think in the food industry it’s a necessity. Take Japan. In the 70s and 80s many Japanese chefs trained in France and went back to open French style patisseries there. Later they started blending & introducing their local flavour in the pastries, like the matcha or the red bean paste. The flavours became more subtle and nuanced, Japanese in that sense and today these flavours rule the market. 

I see a similar trend in Korea which has its cultural richness in cuisine too. So yes home grown native flavours will always be significant in food. 

What has been three of your signature desserts?

a.    Chocolate bon-bon – it’s a layered chocolate - one layer of salted sticky caramel, one layer of hazelnut crunch praline with sea salt (sea salt adds a play to the palette when you get a hint of it) and the third layer is dark chocolate ganache. 

b.    Aruga : This is a spherical dessert – it has a sticky chocolate brownie, topped with mascarpone coffee cream. Between these two spheres we have a walnut coffee praline sandwiched in between. All this is enclosed in milk chocolate and garnished with milk chocolate 

c.    Fistike: It means pistachio in the Turkish language and this dessert celebrates this lovely dry fruit. It has pistachio powder flavoured with milk and made into a mousse. It also has a milk chocolate creamy hazelnut biscuit with some liquid pistachio praline.

What trend do you forecast for the chocolate industry this year?

Chocolate’s innovation is not as fast as its for cakes and pastries. The gaps between discovering new chocolates or varies is always long. For example, a French chef accidently made caramel chocolate 15 years back when he forgot that he had put milk chocolate in the oven!  What is becoming a health trend is lesser sugar in chocolate and higher percentages of dark chocolate, even going upto 90%+!  (though I personally find it very bitter and do not enjoy it).

In countries like Italy, Greece & specially England we are seeing customers demand more of fair trade products to ensure the farmers and workers get their fair wages and treated well.