An Interview at Bissinger's by La Confectionista -10/2/11
Owens certainly looks the part of Chief Chocolatier.The crisp clean chef’s coat embroidered with
those very words doesn’t hurt either.But he doesn’t need it.He’s a
pro and it shows.Heading a team at a
place like Bissinger’s, he has to be.Their Maryland
Plaza space is
fairly new but the team functions like a well oiled machine throughout the
night.We had the treat of talking with
Dave and staying for one of their wine and chocolate pairings.
so many questions:How does a product go
from idea to a new truffle in the case? Where do your beans come from? ( cote’
ivory) and the all important “What’s with the Pandas? “While I tried to be unique and original in my
questions, seasoned Dave has heard them all, and it was nicer just to hear him
dish about the upcomingchocolate and
Bourbon tasting, the story of product development and how much he loves working
with his wife, who was his sous-chef before she was his soul mate.The Counte and I learned what the “Rainforest
Alliance” is, the full back ground on the wine grapes and by the time the night
was over I discovered a new found love of pumpkin bark.
record, the dramatic vision I had of a CEO awakening in the middle of the night
with a new dream truffle isn’t exactly accurate.Rather frequently a client or supplier comes
to them and says “Can you make that” or “What can you do with this?”In fact that is the secret of the wine
grapes.A supplier approached them with
large moscato (like the wine) grapes and said “What can you do with these?”.In true Bissinger’s fashion the answer was
“cover them in chocolate”.While in the
case of the Pandas, a hole was seen in the market, because no one was selling high
quality gummy candy to adults.Then the
realization that they are just the folks to fill it and win a few awards while
they’re at it.Sometimes an idea is
pitched from the team of 2 concepts that seem to “scientifically” go together
and sometimes ideas are pitched for flavors that “artistically” go together.
named “vice president of taste” humbly tells us about the SOFI awards they’ve
won, the trends of sweet ( like salt caramels returning) and how the team tries
to maintain the Bissinger’s name.The
answer to that?“Try not to screw it up”!
heart, Bissinger’s is a retailer and Dave tells us how very important all the
little details are, even down to the bows on the bags.You can tell everyone at Bissinger’s is
practically obsessed with the perfection of their confection.And they must aim for this perfection not
just year after year, but decade after decade.The commitment to quality continues to increase.
night progresses and we try various chocolates with wines to match ( My fav.
was the pumpkin bark with Moscato) the intimate group learns all sorts of
interesting things.Like the fact that Bissinger's
uses 400,000 lbs of chocolate a year.Chocolate Liquor is not alcohol at all, but rather roasted and ground
cocoa beans before any other processing.We also learned that some of their chocolate is Rain Forest Alliance
Certified, which means they pay more for their beans to help the forests and
the people who work them.And as we sip
and savor through the evening while learning all sorts of neat things about
beans and bars, I realize school would’ve been much better if it was set to
sweets(and wine) and instructed by people who were all so passionate about