Wild Sweets uses science, unique flavours to create award-winning chocolate

Dominique and Cindy Duby’s Chinese New Year chocolate includes flavours like lychee longan, mandarin orange and caramel, peach persimmon, and mango green tea.

Richmond chocolatier's Chinese New Year chocolate includes flavours like peach persimmon, mango green tea

Cindy and Dominique Duby met at a common employer, and after their relationship started they went to Europe to study the art of making chocolate. (Wild Sweets By Dominique & Cindy Duby)

For Richmond husband and wife team Dominique and Cindy Duby, making chocolate is both an art and a science.

Each year the chocolatiers work with food scientists at UBC, researching various aspects of chocolate making, such as using unusual ingredients or lab-based equipment to create new tastes and textures, or developing chocolate with increased nutritional value.

"The old adage is you eat with your eyes first," said Dominique, of Wild Sweets By Dominique & Cindy Duby.

A top 25 chocolatier in the world

"And for chocolate especially it's extremely precise — the way to have something look shiny, snappy … you can't wing it, either it works or it doesn't work.

"Cooking is a lot more emotional. You can put in a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and most of the time it's okay. In pastry and chocolate it doesn't work that way, so in cooking you call it recipes, in pastry you call it formulas."

That dedication to presentation and taste has earned Wild Sweets international recognition.

Dominique and Cindy Duby performing research in a UBC lab. (Wild Sweets by Dominique and Cindy Duby)

They were ranked as one of the 'Top 25 Best Chocolatier in the World' in the 2015 edition of Chocolate — The Reference Standard, which uses a ranking system (zero to six cocoa pods) similar to the stars that the Michelin Guide awards to restaurants.

Wild Sweets has also earned gold at the 'Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America Awards' 2012 to 2015.

When Wild Sweets first began Cindy and Dominique focused more on experimenting with different ingredients and flavour combinations.

While they still try to use unique ingredients and flavours from different cultures, their recent focus has been on the process of chocolate making itself.

Bean-to-bar chocolate

Their current research project is exploring roasting methods in the production of bean-to-bar chocolate (making chocolate directly from the cocoa bean as opposed to melting chocolate from another manufacturer).

Wild Sweet's special collection for the 2016 Chinese New Year, (Wild Sweets By Dominique & Cindy Duby)

"We always try to innovate and be leaders in our field, but not necessarily because of ingredient combination, but more because of techniques and the chocolate making part of it," Dominique said.

That's not to say that their flavours aren't still unique.

For Chinese New Year, Wild Sweets has released a range of chocolate that Cindy said "combines lots of Asian flavours."

Some of those include mango and green tea, mandarin orange and caramel, peach and persimmons, and lychee and longan (a fruit found in Southeast Asia, similar to the lychee).

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.