Award-Winning Chocolate Friends

Every year the International Association of Culinary Professionals hands out awards for what they deem are the Best Cookbooks of the Year. Last month in Seattle, I attended the ceremony with a few friends and instead of getting drunk on the free wine and champagne and heckling the winners as usual, I was thrilled when the names were called and not one…not two…but three of my ‘chocolate’ friends won awards!

Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
By Mort Rosenblum
Award: Literary Food Writing

When I moved to Paris, chocolatier John Scharffenberger told me that I must meet Mort Rosenblum. He told me stories about what a colorful character he was, living on a boat in the Seine, and being a war correspondent for the Associated Press. Not being very adept at making friends via the ‘cold-calling method’, I worked up the verve and took his advice, and Mort turned out to be one of the most, um, interesting people I’ve ever met! Having spent a lifetime as a journalist, he tackled chocolate in his latest book, researching everything from the working conditions on the Ivory Coast of Africa to the Mexican chocolate culture of Oaxoca, and finally exploring the exclusive realm of chocolate in Paris, including the laboratoire of the elusive Jacques Genin.

Mort also writes of an interesting ‘incident’ about my experience with a certain, er, French chocolate company that wasn’t very, um, nice to me. Even though my mother always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, blah…blah…” (she obviously didn’t have a blog), he coaxed some of the gory details out of me. The rest was a story in my chocolate book, which was later deleted, so you’ll have to wait for my posthumous biography for the real dirt.
Since I can’t keep a secret for very long, you can read about some of my encounters with them in his book, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light.

I’ll be leading a sold-out week-long Chocolate Exploration of Paris in May with Mort that promises to be great fun and we’ll be visiting Jacques Genin* himself for a hands-on presentation and tasting. Will report on that in May.

Chocolate Obsession
By Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage
Award: Best Photography and Food Styling

After knowing him for almost 10 years, I think I’ve got his name right. In spite of my mangling his name too many times to count (we’re still friends)…and there’s certainly nothing convoluted about Michael’s sensation chocolate creations. I admire him so much that he’s one of America’s great chocolatiers, and I profiled him in The Great Book of Chocolate. After working for years in restaurant kitchens, he launched his company in San Francisco in 1997, selling his chocolates via local shops. An advocate of using locally-grown ingredients, soon Michael was a fixture at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, and gave out tastes of his chocolates to eager early-morning shoppers. Once the farmer’s market opened their spanking-new, gleaming indoor facility, Michael opened his first boutique and his fame spread far-and-wide. With creations like Key Lime Pears, thinly-coated in bittersweet chocolate, and his do-it-yourself kits for making terrifically-gooey S’Mores (hey!…I’ll bring the marshmallows), Chocolate Obsession reveals many of his secrets and tips for successfully producing chocolate desserts and confections in your own home.
And if you ever get a chance to visit his shop, his chocolate fudge brownies are a-m-a-z-i-n-g…

(Maren Caruso, who won the Photography Award for her stunning photography, and co-award winner Kim Konecny, food stylist, will be shooting my next cookbook, due for release in the May of 2007.)

Chocolate Chocolate
By Lisa Yokelson

This oversized book is almost overwhelming with the variety of chocolate recipes. Lisa likes things over-the-top, everything from Chocolate Pancakes to deep-chocolate bar cookies studded with chips and nuts. Everything here is loaded with so much chocolate that you’ll go crazy.
You may go insane.

You may end up like TomKat.

But I hope not.

*Many of you have asked where you can get Jacques Genin chocolates. A limited selection is available at Pain de Sucre, 14 rue Rambuteau (Tel: 01 45 74 68 92). As far as I know, they’re unavailable in the United States. You can also try to visit his laboratoire at 18 rue St.-Charles. It’s not a shop and normally not open to the public, but he’s quite nice and often he’ll sell his chocolates to visitors if the weather is right, the planets are in correct alignment, and he’s in the mood.


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13 comments

  • Always nice to hear about books worthy of my Amazon wish list. And even better to hear that we can expect another book from you!!! But how will we wait a whole year?

  • David,
    Thanks again for the valuable information you’re sharing. I’ve seen Lisa Yokelson’s book and my intuition told me it’s a good book (happy to know it’s still working).

  • On the savory side, Mr. Rosenblum’s book “Olives” is also quite interesting. Olives are one of those foods which figure prominently in human gastronomy, history, politics and economics; Rosenblum reviews the complexity with great skill and energy.

  • I didn’t buy chocolates at Pain de Sucre yet, but I can assure you that their “pâtisseries” are delicious! And even so is the bread especially the one with cereals.
    By the way, I’m a regular reader of your blog and I think I recognize you (from the picture)earlier this evening at les Petits Carreaux. If I’m right I hope you enjoyed the place!

  • David, how can you do this to me? As if I needed more cookbooks to buy? So as the visual that I am, I really loved the cover of Chocolate Obsession. How are the recipes?
    And what happened with mysterious French chocolate factory V?
    Ah god, and I wanted to take a chocolate break. Cannot even. As of matter of fact, this reminds me that I ran out of my dark chocolate en tablettes and need to go online now.
    Also, have you come across PH10? Technical? good? So many questions! MERCI

  • David,
    I have two of the three…I guess I will need to get the third! Thanks for feeding my cookbook habit (it didn’t really need feeding, but thanks anyway)!

  • David, I’m not sure I understand your reference to TomKat. Are you insinuating that they are insane and/or crazy? I’m shocked and confused.
    Furthermore, are you just trying to impress us with your list of very important chocolate-loving friends? Because if you are, well, it worked. But don’t forget about us little people.

  • Sezz: If I have to wait another year, then so do you.

    Eyal: Just don’t name your kid ‘Suri’, which means ‘pickpocket’ in Japanese (yes, that’s true)

    Marc: I got a copy of Olives in December and it’s on my to-read list (A Goose in Toulouse is also a terrific read.)

    Béa: I saw PH10, but don’t want to spend 150 euros for an extreme close-up of the corner of a piece of chocolate. Plus all the recipes are full of ingredients that no one could possibly procure, unless you’re name is Pierre Hermé.

    Anita: Yes, collecting cookbooks is insanity. Just don’t ship yours overseas and you’ll be fine.

    Michèle: I don’t know about the mental state of that couple (Remember: “Tomkat IS.”..not “Tomkat ARE…”)
    On my lawyers advice, I decline to comment.

    And there are no little people, unless you count the ones who drink Aligoté when everyone else is drinking rosé.

  • LOL,
    no way, David, I consider giving strange names to infants as child abuse.

  • Oh gad, more books to buy. However, the Chocolate Obsession book has been on my list to buy since you showed the photographs to me at the Sur la Table table at IACP. (Ooh, I’m glad you chose that photographer!) I’ve been told that the recipes really do work. I keep having dreams of cutting back on sweets, but it clearly isn’t going to happen now.

    TomKat is out of control.

  • Ooh, will your next cookbook focus on French desserts, like the kouign and madeleines? Can’t wait.

  • David,
    Ever since I discovered your site last year via Adam’s blog “The Amateur Gourmet”, I have enjoyed tremendously all your wonderfully-written entries about your everyday life in Paris. Reading your blog transports me back to my own experiences in France. Your reply to Eyal regarding TomKat’s daughter name ‘Suri’ finally made me delurk. You are absolutely right about the word ‘suri’, which means a pickpocket in Japanese. It also means ‘get out of here’ in Hebrew. In Israel, the term ‘suri’ denotes ‘expulsion’. Other meanings of the word are ‘rose’ in Persian and ‘sun’ in Sanskrit. But I’m sure you already know that.

    The following is for your own information and does not imply any disrespect for you. I know it’s a little risque but I do think you have a sense of humor and will laugh it off. The name “David” (a Christian name) has always been translated into Chinese as “Da”-”Vid” or “Big”-”Great”. Boys are given this English name “Big”-”Great” in hopes of them growing up to become a hero or “GREAT”, naturally. With the invention of Viagra some time back, the drug has been named in both Mandarin and in Cantonese as “Da-Vid-Goh”, or “Big-Great-Older Brother”; or simply nick-named “Vid-Goh” or “Big Great Brother David”.

    Hopefully, you will not post my comment on your blog. It is just for your own amusement.

    Take care and continue to inform as well as entertain us readers with your fabulous blog.

  • I recently flipped through both Chocolate Chocolate and Chocolate Obsession. I was overwhelmed by the flowery pink wallpaper desigb of Chocolate Chocolate and could not concentrate on the recipes, but I could not take my eyes off Chocolate Obsession. I make desserts at a Pan-Asian restaurant, and I LOVE seeing someone combining tea and chocolate. (David, I am constantly looking to your Monsoon desserts for inspiration!) His creations are so beautiful and sophisticated without being at all “precious”. Thursday is my birthday, and I have already made room for it on my bookshelf.