Wild Sweets uses science, unique flavours to create award-winning chocolate
Richmond chocolatier's Chinese New Year chocolate includes flavours like peach persimmon, mango green tea
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.
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.
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).
"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).