Think chocolate is child’s play? Think again. Jacques Torres—a.k.a. “Mr. Chocolate”—does not mess around when it comes to the sweet stuff. A classically-trained French pastry chef who has put in stints at some of the world’s finest kitchens (Hotel Negresco in Nice, Le Cirque in NYC), Torres is now the owner of six awe-inspiring chocolate emporiums across New York.
A lot of people claim to be obsessed with chocolate, but few can match Torres’ devotion to the stuff: He once lived with a family in Oaxaca to better understand the origin of cacao, and he’s the first artisan chocolatier to make his own chocolate entirely from scratch, roasting and grinding cacao beans on-site in his Wonka-esque Soho factory and store.
That’s not to say that Torres doesn’t have a sense of humor. Many of his best-known desserts are whimsical, like the miniature chocolate stove he created at Le Cirque—a 3-D sculpture complete with edible pots filled with raspberry and mango sauce on the burners, and a piece of cake “baking” inside. Or his famed chocolate-chip cookies, whose recipe Torres freely admits is based off of Toll House (he just added a ealthy dose of technique and knowledge to make them about 100 times better).
Despite some of his more outlandish creations over the years, Torres’ influences remain firmly rooted in the simple pleasures of his Provençal childhood: roasted nuts, bonbons, a local cake that’s miraculously chocolate-free.
Here, the name-brand chocolatier walks us through the dishes that made his career.
This interview has been edited and condensed.