At some point, my professional journey in the art scene shifted towards advisory and consultant roles. On the one hand, it was a rewarding job that I had a lot of respect and gratitude for. But on the other hand, it was a very challenging and responsible job, involving significant risks, including financial ones, and purely of an intellectual nature. I have never seen a finished product come out of my hands.
How I pivoted to craft chocolate
I have always admired craftsmen of any kind. Yet, it was very risky to leave a lucrative job in the field, trust my hands, and simply engage in the production of tangible objects. I was always passionate about food so when I was finding my new career path, I first tried my hand in all things food-related: experimented with pastry making, managed a high-end deli shop, and took charge of creating desserts at a restaurant. I even gave catering a shot—feeding the hungry minds in universities. Unfortunately, none of it really clicked for me.
When I encountered craft chocolate, it blew my mind—this was a whole different taste story. That's also when I started realising that chocolate could be a tool. Among craft chocolate makers, you find individuals devoted to their craft—genuine, profound, and kind. Many of them transitioned to craft chocolate making from entirely unrelated industries. It's a community of like-minded people united by a mission.
Find what's driving you
Just painting chocolate bonbons may not be interesting enough. I found out that for me taste, structure, and an original idea are more important and fascinating. It's a complex, multi-layered process—you're working with your mind, needing to work through hundreds of details. It's like solving a puzzle for weeks or sometimes months—you struggle, think and then bam!—the solution hits you, and you're ecstatic.
Crafting bonbons brings challenges of all kinds with it: combining flavours, nailing the chemistry of the process, adding a meaning, and, of course, dealing with the very practical stuff like shelf life and safety. The reward for these challenges is immense, though. In skillful hands, chocolate is a wonderfully pliable and grateful medium—it lets you bring countless ideas to life. You can paint it, shape it into various forms, and creatively blend it with a vast array of flavours...
Carambole is an out-of-the-box product (pun not intended), cheeky in its own way yet always elegant. It's not a luxury product; it's a product of craftsmanship and the inspiration of a living artist.
I figured: "If my concept of chocolate is a bit flipped, then my flavors should be challenging the status quo, too".
It's important for me to encapsulate a mini-performance in each bonbon. I would like to make people think and ask questions. In my chocolate bonbons, like in niche perfumes, there's a beginning, middle, climax, and end. When people think, they create images in their minds. And just like that, my bonbons are not a photo, they're a movie.
It's about breaking the stereotypes
I live and do things the way I want and feel, not as I'm told. This life philosophy is reflected in my chocolate— for instance, I create chocolate bonbons with savoury flavours like miso caramel, crispy onion, and barbecue spices. I am intrigued by seemingly weird combinations like wasabi, tuna, and pistachio.
A bonbon I named "Wabi-Sabi" contains exactly this combination of flavours and it has earned a gold medal from the Chocolate Academy in 2021.
I love challenging stereotypes, even if it's just for five minutes—it's totally worth it.
My specialty in bonbon production is individuality. Few know that cocoa beans are akin to grapes—the taste can vary from season to season, even within one plantation! And you need to establish a stable flavour for the bonbon with such a variable taste, so you constantly engage your analytical mind and tweak the recipe. Mass production can't achieve this; it's only possible with small batches. However, chocolate makers in the craft chocolate industry embrace small quantities without fear; there's even a term for it—a microbatch.
Choose the top-notch ingredients
Yet, most chocolate bonbons are still made from mass-market ingredients. Therefore my decision to make bonbons from craft ingredients goes against the well-established norm. As a rule, no one makes bonbons this way, primarily because it's expensive and not profitable with modest volumes. Producing small volumes was my conscious decision—I didn't want and still don't want to inflate production capacity. To find the right ingredient, I meticulously search for suitable makers worldwide. For my bonbons, I need a lot of chocolate and couvertures—I don't make them myself; I source them from other craft producers:
Krak Chocolate, an outstanding brand from the Netherlands, is my irreplaceable partner. Over the years, Krak has won numerous award from the Academy of Chocolate in London for its single-origin chocolate.
Solkiki is the UK's first bean-to-bar chocolatemaker. Its approach is in producing micro-batches of organic chocolate from bean-to-bar and not using advertising, but relying on the word-of-mouth.
Biehler Schokoladen is another excellent bean-to-bar chocolatemaker I collaborate with, this time from Germany. The brand uses the finest cocoa beans from South and Central America. The cocoa is grown on small plantations that are managed by the farmers themselves.
Original Beans is another bean-to-bar brand from the Netherlands— its chocolate ranked as the world's no.1 most sustainable chocolate in 2023.
The Chocolate Tree is an award-winning bean-to-bar chocolate brand from Scotland. The brand is committed to purchase organic cocoa sourced from small farms in South and Central America.
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