My life in food: Thierry Muret, chocolatier

 

Godiva Chocolates, founded in Brussels in 1926, is known for its upmarket milk chocolate. Since 1988, Thierry Muret, a trained chemist as well as chocolatier, has been its development chef. The latest Godiva boutique opens today in Harrods in London.

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?

That's easy. We have a few blue stone marble tables we use to temper the chocolate on. They are large things, 6ft long and 4ft wide. You heat chocolate to 50 degrees then cool it by putting it on the marble and spreading it. You then reheat it to about 28 degrees. This gives the chocolate a sheen. It's like tempering glass, it creates little crystals and gives the snappable texture. If you don't do it, you get something grey and soft. You know, I don't have a least used bit of kit, I'm quite frugal.

If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

I would go to the farmers' market in Brussels. I probably wouldn't pick up any meat, just vegetables and fruit, the more exotic the better. Prickly pears, maybe, they have a wonderful taste profile. Guavas, too, or acai – I like to try them and think about what flavours I could marry them with.

What do you eat for comfort?

This may sound strange as I work with it every day but chocolate remains my comfort food. Sometimes at the weekend, when the day is over, I like to sit down in the garden and have a glass of port or red wine with 67 or 72 percent cocoa chocolate. That to me is comfort. You drift into the complexity of the food, the flavours. It is nice to view the product you work with every day in another light.

If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Definitely bread. There is more complexity in bread, more variety. Potato is just starch. You can process potatoes and make different textures that way, but bread gives so much more intrinsically: softness to the crunchiness. And the making of it is a pleasure, as well. My family always know I'm stressed when I bake bread, It is a great calmer. You get a sense of peace when you bake.

What's your desert island recipe?

Chocolate ganache is my desert island recipe. It's a combination of heavy cream and chocolate. First you bring the heavy cream nearly to the boil, taking it from the heat just before it bubbles too much. And then you pour it onto the small blocks of chocolate solid and mix. Depending on the ratio of cocoa solid to cream, you can have a white, dark or milk ganache. Without chocolate ganache I couldn't work or indeed relax.

What's your favourite restaurant?

I have just found a place in Brussels called the Rouge Tomate. It is very modern, fresh and perfectly prepared food. They are very big on local ingredients, too, and have the odd bit of molecular gastronomy insight – but not too much. The ambience is also very pleasant, its almost cafe-like with big wooden tables.

What's your favourite cookbook?

It is called Livre du Chocolat. It is concerned with chocolate, from its very beginnings in the fields to the processing and the finished product. It is not the most technical of books but somehow it gets to the heart of chocolate.

Who taught you about food?

My chocolate master, who taught me for three years in Antwerp, Rene Goossens. He brought me into food, he opened up the full scope of taste and flavour to me. He used to say, "taste this strawberry – now explain what those flavours are." I learnt a lot.

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