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Chocolate Is Hot In Canada:  Éric Champagne

Is there a more noble weekend quest than finding the best chocolatiers in your city?  If you’re passionate about chocolate (and who isn’t?) we think you’ll enjoy our series on three cutting-edge chefs in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver who are masters of their deliciously dark art.

Montreal Pastry chef Éric Champagne completed his training at the Institut de Tourisme d’Hôtellerie du Québec in 2013. He hails from Val-David in the Laurentian mountains, and his work is continually inspired by nature as an art form. Eric has overseen and participated in the opening of several restaurants Montreal area restaurants. He is an avid photographer, which has helped him develop the unique ability to capture people and the world around him and work these concepts into his confections. He believes that a successful pastry should not only captivate the senses but also evoke emotions and memories unique to the human experience. Éric is currently chef capitaine at Arigâteau.

Tell us about your latest chocolate creation:   That’s the dessert I created for the Cacao Barry Challenge winner.  In this dessert, I highlight Cacao Barry’s Zephyr chocolate because of its balanced sweetness and pronounced milk flavour. A Zephyr cremeux is the base of my dessert, which I then pair with a buckwheat miso center from Aliments Massawippi   I love this combination because it perfectly sums up my style:  I love to mix Japanese flavours with wild and foraged ingredients.  The dessert is completed with pears that are both freshly sliced and cooked and compressed with beet juice.

Do you have a chocolate idol?   There are many pastry chefs and chocolatiers who have heavily influenced my career, but I have to choose David H.Chow as my chocolate idol. David is a great inspiration because, while being very precise and technical in his work, he is also playful and whimsical and not afraid to tap into childhood memories as ideas for his chocolate creations. I believe that everyone who is passionate at what they do should also have fun with it. That is why I am so fond of his work.
Your favorite Cacao Barry chocolate?  That has to be their Alunga milk chocolate. Alunga was really the first (and maybe only) milk chocolate that really wowed me. I am generally not a fan of milk chocolate due to its lack of personality or and missing balance with sweetness. Alunga, however, offers rich cocoa aromas as well as interesting fruitiness and acidity. It is really incredible and these flavours are owed to the special fermentation process that Cacao Barry has introduced to some of their lines of chocolate.
 
What is your chocolate fantasy?   A visit to the origins of the chocolate that I love. I would love to find myself closer to the source of where Cacao Barry chocolate is produced. I think I would be interested more specifically in a trip to Tanzania, to learn how cocoa is produced, to see the process of cultivating.
Your chocolate guilty pleasure?  Whippets. Since my childhood, I have always been a huge fan of whippets. The chocolate dipped, marshmallow and cookie center, jelly-filled or plain. It has been my biggest weakness for as long as I can remember. When I tasted the whippets from Les Chocolats de Chloé in Montreal, that was an incredible experience.
 

 

Tell us about the Montreal chocolate scene
Montreal is a very foodie city. There are many big players in the chocolat and pastry scene that have definitely stirred the pot. The first one I must mention is Lecavalier Petrone. They are young entrepreneurs that are doing amazing things on the sugar scene. The aesthetic and beauty of their work are remarkable. I am a very big fan. Secondly, how can I not talk about Patrice Demers from Patrice Pâtissier? If there is one person that has inspired and influenced me in my career, it is Patrice. His hard work and dedication to perfecting his craft have made him an institution in Montreal.
And lastly, the Montreal chocolate scene would be nothing without Chloé Gervais-Fredette. She opened Les Chocolats de Chloé in the Plateau Mont-Royal over 15 years ago. The quality and originality of her work are always exceptional. She is truly a gem.
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