15 Jun2005

My daughter is a Jacques Torres groupie. torres1Who is this short, semi-rotund, balding Frenchman that works miracles with cacao? He is the host of several TV shows dedicated to chocolate and desserts. A superb pastry chef, he had a long stint at the Hotel Negresco in Nice, then worked as a Pastry Chef for the famed, but now closed Le Cirque in New York before he opened his own stores (first in Brooklyn, now in Manhattan). Before we even landed in New York, my daughter was resolved to pay homage at his new Tribeca store. Located at 350 Hudson (on the corner of King Street), this is way down the west side of the island of Manhattan.

The enormous cacao bean shaped store is nestled into the center of a working chocolate “factory”. torres2What is clever is that everything is visible because of clear glass walls. You actually feel as though you are in the factory. Just make sure you are there when they producing chocolates (I believe the factory operates Tuesday to Saturday but call them first to make sure). Within the store is a dizzying array of chocolates which you can select piece by piece in ¼, ½, and 1 pound boxes. These chocolates are laid out on chilled white marble counters and are actually very reasonably priced. Also on offer are bags of candies and chocolates, lollipops, chocolate animals, etc. My daughter was indeed in chocolate heaven, not haven. Personally, I thought some of it a bit cheesy and more of the “Disneyland-esque” version of chocolate when compared with say, my favorite La Maison du Chocolat… but then again, they are patronized by completely different target markets.

We had two cookies to taste: a chocolate chip and a mud pie cookie, at USD2.50 a piece. torres3They were very good. Large thin cookies about 5 inches in diameter, they were pre-cooked but heated on a hot plate just before serving. They were chewy and delicious. My daughter also ordered a hot chocolate that she rated as “very good” and, trust me, she has rated many a hot chocolate from around the globe… The store has seating areas where you can enjoy your cookies and chocolate. In the 20 minutes we spent in the store, there was a steady stream of customers that came in to “ooh and aah” and leave with more than just a few sweets… many struck me as TV fans, just like my daughter. If you must pay Chocolate Haven a visit be sure to ring them at 212-414-2462 to check on the kitchen schedule so you can see the chocolates actually being made.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Mila says:

    Does Jacques Torres ever show up at his store? I used to go to the Joseph Schmidt factory in San Francisco and wonder if I’d ever meet JS in person or if it was just like Mrs. See’s who never existed or died eons ago.
    Some of the best chocolate I’ve tasted recently comes from Japan, they seem to know how to get the best ingredients, particularly dark chocolate, and make delicate, gorgeous pieces. Typically Japanese in style and layout, that transcendent beauty their artists are known for.

    Jun 15, 2005 | 3:51 pm

     
  2. Marketman says:

    Mila, not sure if Mr. Torres ever makes it to his shop but the kitchens looked fantastic with or without him. I agree the Japanese are doing great things with chocolate (see a much earlier post of mine of Royce chocolates)these days…

    Jun 15, 2005 | 7:31 pm

     
  3. artisan chocolatier says:

    Chef Jacques spend more time in his Manhattan shop than in his DUMBO shop.

    I had the chance of meeting up with him, having him sign his cookbooks and having our picture taken together after blowing close to a grand in chocolates and cookbooks.

    Oct 20, 2007 | 12:08 pm

     
 

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