If chocolate is your guilty pleasure, it’s time to put on your white chef’s coat and tune in to Netflix’s new eight-episode School of Chocolate for some professional lessons from world-renowned chocolatier Amaury Guichon, known globally for creating mind-blowing chocolate showpieces and unbelievable pastries.
“I think everybody loves chocolate, so there is interest in it,” Chef Amaury told Monsters & Critics in this exclusive interview of how his new show came about. “Not a lot of people know the spectrum of everything you can do and accomplish with chocolate. In School of Chocolate, we demonstrate and teach people what they can accomplish with chocolate, with the raw material.”
Chef Amaury will be instructing eight top pastry and chocolate professionals on how to take their skills and careers to the next level when it comes to chocolate. And one lucky student who manages to prove themselves “Best in Class” will win a prize package that includes a career-changing opportunity.
“We wanted professionals that could benefit from learning a little bit of higher skills, whether it was from pastry or from a chocolate showpiece,” he said. “I think the cast was actually wonderful and well done. It wasn’t the easiest part because it’s always very difficult, but they’re all professionals. I think anybody at any level can always have room for improvement, so no matter who we would have tested, we would have had a good time but the batch we had was fantastic.”
Monsters & Critics: What kinds of challenges will we see?
Chef Amaury: They are skilled based, so half pastry, half chocolate showpiece. I’m doing demonstrations about how to accomplish certain designs or new techniques that I developed and I challenge them to show me their own creativity, their own spin on what I’ve demonstrated.
M&C: What do you look for in a good chocolate creation?
Chef Amaury: Cleanliness is very important. I think any design can work as long as you know the techniques to make it alive. A lot of people have great creativity. Often what they lack is the technique to apply to create their idea in three dimensions. There is no monopoly on good ideas or design, if the design is clean and well executed usually I’m pleased.
M&C: Dark chocolate versus milk chocolate?
Chef Amaury: Dark chocolate. Even though I’m from Switzerland originally and milk chocolates were pretty big in Switzerland.
M&C: Is white chocolate even chocolate?
White chocolate is cocoa butter, milk powder, powdered sugar, lecithin, a little bit of vanilla. I would say maybe technically it’s not really chocolate; it’s just the recipe we came up with. I’m not a big fan of white chocolate.
M&C: So, we are not going to see any white chocolate challenges?
Chef Amaury: No, It can be useful, because with white, the color shines through more than darker colors, so we use it wisely once in a while, but no, it’s more dark or milk chocolate oriented.
M&C: Do you have a favorite dessert?
Chef Amaury: I like the complexity of desserts when I craft them, but I love the simplicity when it comes to the taste, a simple crème brûlée or baba au rhum. Simple things.
M&C: How did your interest in chocolate begin?
Chef Amaury: To make it short, it’s a little bit of a sad story, but a lot of French chefs you will meet, we all have a very similar background. We were not the best in school and the French system pushed us out and tried to nudge us into an artisanal field, whether it is woodworking, plumbing, electricity, or culinary. I chose culinary and I discovered the beauty of the profession. I wanted to be very good at it.
M&C: Did you ever do savory cooking, or you have always been desserts?
Chef Amaury: The two first years of my culinary journey were in savory, and I was very young at the time. I started at 14, so I got out of the savory side of culinary when I was 16, and I decided to explore everything culinary has to offer, so I moved on to do pastry.
M&C: Is there anything that you think that we need to know about chocolate?
Chef Amaury: Chocolate is a very misunderstood product. Most people love to eat it, but not a lot of people know the extent of how unique and precious chocolate is. It’s one of the rare few vegetable organic elements that can have two consistencies: liquid or solid at the exact same temperature, so when you understand that, the possibilities are really endless with chocolate.
School of Chocolate is currently streaming on Netflix.