A Sweet Success: Chocolate 101 with Joseph Atallah
Joseph's couverture chocolate treats paved the way for Kimberley's sweet success and the popularity of his concoctions remains to this day.
The chocolates at Kimberley’s are gorgeous. And their taste? Impeccable. But when there used to be little to no luxurious chocolate around in the market, Joseph Atallah set out to change that. Bringing a strong background in organic chemistry and food science, as well as a refined palate, he established Kimberley Chocolates, and following that, his chocolate making workshops, to gift us with fantastic and unique flavour combinations in chocolate that we can never get enough of.
In this week’s feature, we chat with Joseph and talk to him about everything chocolate, how he got a start at being a chocolatier, Kimberley Chocolates establishment and sweet success, and what fancies Joseph’s sweet tooth. We’re also excited to announce a $25 discount offering for all of Kimberley’s Chocolate Making workshops, valid until Mother’s Day! Find more details at the end of this interview.
WTM: How long have you been working with chocolate? What gravitated you towards it?
I started Kimberley chocolates in 1994, the reason I started the chocolate business was to bring the taste of couverture chocolate to the public. One of the experiments in Food science was to make couverture chocolate i.e. chocolate using cocoa beans and cocoa butter. This chocolate tasted so much better than the chocolate I use to buy, I decided that one day I will make this kind of chocolate accessible to the public. We started selling the handmade chocolate at the local market, we progressed to sell the chocolates Caterers, Hotels and Airlines.
WTM: Can you still remember the time you decided you wanted to take this passion further [and turn it into a business]? Can you describe it to us?
When I tasted the Lemon Myrtle ganache. This ganache is made with white chocolate fresh cream and lemon myrtle. This chocolate was always my best seller until I made Chilli chocolate, lemon myrtle became my second-best seller.
WTM: What do you think sets you apart from other chocolatiers?
I am one of the few boutique chocolate makers that makes his own chocolate starting from the cocoa beans. I have total control over everything I do. I can decide the cocoa content of the chocolate and the flavour that would best go with the chocolate.
WTM: What is your most favourite thing about the chocolate business and what is not?
The thing I like about the chocolate business is that I look forward to go to work in the morning, although it has been 23 years, the novelty has not worn off. The other thing I like about what I do now is the look on the people’s faces when they strip the chocolate mould, and realise that ‘they’ made the wonderful chocolates in front of them. I have yet to find what I don’t like about the chocolate business.
WTM: What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to do at Kimberley Chocolates? What lesson did that teach you?
The hardest thing I had to make in chocolate is when I made 2 blocks of one cubic meter each for the Sydney Olympic games. That taught me that chocolate does not cool evenly.
WTM: What was your goal in the outset when 1) you established your business and 2) you decided you would teach chocolate making?
I started the business, wanting to educate people about chocolate. It took 10 years before I had time to run the classes. If you are good in math, you can deduce that I have been running classes for 13 years.
WTM: Are there any memorable classroom/student stories?
I recently ran an 80th birthday party for a group of 80 plus years of age. I had the most fun I’ve had in a class. This group despite their age they were lively and full of beans. They were dancing and singing while they made the chocolate.
WTM: Do you feel like you have to change your flavours every so often? Or do you like to keep it the same for a while?
We change flavours regularly. There are so many flavour combinations it is a shame not try most of them. We had our regulars but we always tried new flavours.
WTM: What is your favourite flavour combination?
70% dark chocolate with orange and cognac. The 70% cocoa content chocolate is a little on the bitter side of the taste scale, it is an adult chocolate, when you combine this with a good orange flavor then lace it with cognac, the taste buds will start to party on the spot.
WTM: What advice do you have for the entrepreneur who wants to get started doing something?
Learn from your mistakes but don’t look back
WTM: What the next big thing when it comes to chocolate trends?
There is a shortage of chocolate, the next thing to do for chocolate is to keep up with the demand.
WTM: And what is next for Kimberley Chocolates?
The next thing we will do at Kimberley Chocolates is to run classes of perfume making then we will choose a suitable perfume and make a chocolate using the perfume as the flavour. My organic chemistry background, makes it easy for me to understand and combine the various fragrance to create the perfume of your choice. We have always made chocolates with lavender and rose essential oils. If the perfume is made from essential oils, then it will not be difficult to add this edible oil to the chocolate.
Experience a hands-on chocolate workshop and become an expert chocolatier! Sign up for classes and save $25 OFF the price (valid until Mother’s Day).
Use code: THEOBROMA25
Become an expert chocolatier and save $25 when you sign up for any class!
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