Tokratni zapis sem izjemoma pripravila v angleščini, saj sem se ekskluzivno pogovarjala s pravim čokoladnim sommelierjem Kevinom Lühmannom. Kevin je v prvi vrsti slaščičar in svoje sladke umetnine ustvarja pod okrivljem gastronomskega velikana skupine Martin Braun. Naziv čokoladni sommelier je prejel natanko leto dni nazaj in od takrat poleg svoje redne službe kot čokoladni sommelier organizira različne dogodke in delavnice po Nemčiji in tudi na Japonskem.
Your job seems to be the best job in the world. What chocolate sommelier actually do and how did you became one?
A chocolate sommelier can tell the difference between good chocolate and bad chocolate. We explain to the consumer all about chocolate and cocoa. Many chocolate sommeliers offers tastings, some don’t. Actually, being one doesn’t means someone is working fulltime as a chocolate sommelier. Some of us are owners of a Chocolate Shop, a Catering Company or a Pastry Shop. Some works in pastry shops as a head of production, in quality control or as a teacher at pastry schools. There is no one, as far as I know, who works every day in the month as a chocolate sommelier. So it is different to many wine sommelier, whose job is a special kind of waiter, working 100% as a wine sommelier.
How many chocolate sommeliers actually are and can anybody become one?
The name “chocolate sommelier” is not protected. In some countries, owners of fine chocolate shops call themselves “Chocolate sommelier” without doing an exam. That is why I call myself “certified chocolate sommelier”. Currently there are 30 certified chocolate sommeliers. The main requirement becoming a certified chocolate sommelier is having a Master degree in pastry or Master degree in bakery, if you can proof, that you work with chocolate. So having the Master degree is a guarantee, that the person knows in practice and theory all about crystallisation of chocolate, producing bars and bonbons. Then you are able to start the training, which takes 6 months and ends with an exam, splitted in 5 different segments.
How chocolate tastings look like?
There is no rule about it. When I do a tasting I do it the following way: at first I explain about chocolate in general and about the ingredients. I explain about cocoa pods, the different genetics of the cocoa plants. Then I explain about the production steps (fermenting, drying, roasting etc.). Between all these steps I start explaining, how to eat a chocolate for getting most pleasure. I explain about the chocolates, which will be tasted, why I choose them and we discuss about these chocolates. After these tastings there are usually a lot of questions. So it usually end up with a nice discussion. Often I do tastings with the focus on japanese chocolate. In that case I explain about the japanese chocolate market – and for better understanding the differences to the german chocolate market.
As you mentioned, you are thorn between Germany and Japan. What are the differences between these two countries when it comes to chocolate? I know that Japanese are in love with the KitKat…
Yes, there are many differences. One main difference is, that chocolate in Germany is a sweet with tradition. We are more conservative and it is difficult to bring new flavors in the market. While in Japan, Chocolate is a modern sweet and the Japanese are looking for new trends, flavors and shapes every season!!! In Germany we eat approximately three times more kg chocolate per person a year than in Japan. But the Japanese spend more money for the chocolate than in Germany. And about KitKat, it is really crazy. KitKat has flagstores in Japan and there are more than 40 flavors, which you find all over the year in Japan. Plus special flavours, you may buy only in one prefecture. For example – if you would like to taste KitKat SweetPotatoe, you must go to Okinawa.
What will be in you opinion the next great thing in the chocolate world? What are the trends for 2019?
This is for me impossible to say globally. The countries have so many different steps of development. In my opinion countries like Japan, Taiwan, Singapore are global trendsetter. Behind these countries are the US, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark and others. “We” in Germany, France, UK, Slovenia and other countries are somewhere in the past, when it comes to chocolate. But that makes it exciting, having a look in the future, when we check out other markets.
Your best and worst chocolate flavour/combination?
Worst: I don’t like strong alcohols in a bonbons. For example I like Casali Rum-Kokos, but I don’t like Brandy-Beans, Mon Cherry and stuff like this. I also don’t like coffee, so I can not eat coffee chocolate for satisfaction.
Best: This is changing quite often. But generally I like the combination bitter with sweet (like Chocolate with Orange or Tea) or sour with sweet (like Chocolate with Passionfruit, Citrus fruits) and also ginger with Chocolate.
Do you know any Slovenian chocolates, did you try it already?
Well, I tried a few. But I have to say, that I’ve only been twice in Slovenia. And I know that there is a chocolate festival, but I couldn’t join it.
I have one chocolate from my last trip, Okusi Slovenije “Temna Čokolada” from company Jave and two bars Blejski otok. I like Maribor and Ljubljana, the food, great landscape and very nice people.
Did you ever consider making you own chocolate?
Well, yes. I’ve made a lot of trials in the last 14 months to make my own “Bean to Bar” Chocolate, made with 70% Arriba National Organic Cocoa Bean from Ecuador and 30% Organic Cane Sugar. This chocolate will not be sold in shops, but this is the chocolate I will produce, when I do workshops. In March I will have an official packaging for it after the german food law. For me it makes sence, teaching about the full package. Not only the chocolate itself, it has to include the packaging.
What are your plans for the future?
In March I will offer my first “Bean to Bar Chocolate” Workshop at Germany’s Nr. 1 Bakery Academy in Weinheim for Pastry Chefs and Bakers. In October or November I will be back in Japan for a chocolate event together with an artisan japanese chocolate company. There are other small events planned, but not fixed yet.