Supplier spotlight: meet Callebaut, our chocolatiers

Supplier spotlight: meet Callebaut, our chocolatiers

There are some ingredients that are just so good it feels like cheating to use them. We are looking at you, Callebaut chocolate.

Scientific tests have proven that when it’s thrown into the mix, it’s impossible to make anything that is not downright delicious. (If you doubt the science, try our chocolate lava cake,  made with 200g of Callebaut’s finest, and rest easy.)

In the leadup to the great chocofest, we talk to Gary Willis, Australian head of distribution for the inside scoop on this Belgian chocolate most loved by pâtissiers, chocolatiers… and us! Wait a sec – this guy’s the “head of chocolate distribution”. Easter’s around the corner. Hmmm. Yes, Virginia, there is an Easter Bunny. And his name is Gary. What a lucky bunny....

Tell us about the beginnings of Callebaut…
Callebaut was founded 1911 by Octaaf Callebaut in a small Belgian town, Wieze. It was originally a brewery! Octaaf began developing/roasting cocoa beans and then after WWI he focused purely on producing chocolate to supply to chocolatiers and bakers.

Where do you source your cacao beans?
Callebaut cacao beans are grown in West Africa and South America. Callebaut partners directly with cacao farmer cooperatives in Ivory Coast, Ghana and Ecuador through the Cocoa Horizons programme which is an impact-driven program focused on cacao farmer prosperity and helping build self-sustaining farming communities that protect nature and children.
What makes the best chocolate?
It's the bean selection, bean roasting, bean blend and the know-how to make good quality chocolate. Octaaf learnt to understand chocolate with all his senses and he passed that skill on to those who came after him. He and his team would always observe the chocolate in the conches [the machine that grinds, mixes and kneads the beans to ensure a smooth, velvety texture] and make sure it was as perfect as possible.
Why is Callebaut the go-to chocolate for some of the top chefs worldwide? And how did that come about?
Workability, consistency, quality and the product range. Callebaut produces chocolate for every type of application and started to export to the world in 1965. Dating back to 1922 however, after the war, many bakers and chocolatiers struggled to find good quality chocolate to use in their pastries which was a problem the Callebaut family wanted to solve. To this day pastry chefs and bakers find the iconic taste and legendary workability of Callebaut chocolate to be the go-to for their creations.
What are some of your favourite things to make with your chocolate?  
Hot chocolate for my daughter, or chocolate slabs with various fillings.

What is your favourite flavour combination?  
Milk chocolate with a combination of hazelnuts or almonds, incorporated with soft and crunchy textures. 
What is the most important element in the chocolate making process for you?  
Tempering to achieve gloss and snap. As mentioned earlier, using all the senses helps the team not only taste, but smell, see and feel the quality of our chocolate once the process is complete.
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