What compels people, especially in this current economy, to pay $55 to watch a guy stand in front of a room and talk for two hours? Chocolate. But, most importantly, chocolate as interpreted by Michael Recchiuti. Over 20 people sat in a cool room (ambient temperature 65 degrees) in an industrial building in San Francisco this afternoon and watched while Michael demonstrated how to temper chocolate, how to form a tuile, how to make a perfect ganache and transform it into a truffle and what to do with unhopped barley-malt syrup:Oh, yeah, and then there were those triple chocolate cookies and chocolate bark.
I have taken two other classes from Michael. He did a similar class to this one when his cookbook first came out. There was also an amazing chocolate/wine pairing class that he did with the Ferry Market Wine Merchants two years ago. I take Michael’s classes for two reasons. He has an alchemist’s aptitude for combing flavors (i.e. ruby red grapefruit and tarragon and for controlling fire. As I watched him make the Burnt Caramel Base(a signature Recchiuti Confections flavor) I was reminded of one of my cooking school chefs who taught me how to burn onions for the best onion soup. It was at that moment, years ago, that I understood where flavor is developed. It is developed at that precipice where one might panic and turn back. It is the moment when you think the onion might be burning or the croissant is getting too dark (see Tartine Bakery), or the sugar is about to burn beyond recognition. Good chefs brown. Great chefs burn.
For upcoming classes check out their website. The questionnaire passed out at the end of the class asked which topics we would be interested in for future demos. I vote for Chocolate Pairings, Savory & Sweet Chocolate and Demos involving chocolate and other non-chocolate items (herbs, salts).