If you want to learn all about chocolate and how important the qualityof chocolate is… all you have to do is take a trip to Switzerland; and more specifically Vevey and the wider area of Gruyère that belongs to the Cantons, as the Swiss call them… Vaud και Fribourg.
The purpose of our trip was to learn as much as possible about chocolate! We wanted to take pictures, do some research and finally come out with the most “chocolatey” book for all of YOU!
The modern history of chocolate began from these Swedish districts… Vaud and Fribourg. In 1821-1825 François-Louis Cailler, the founder of the oldest brand of chocolate in the world, discovered an unknown mixture at the time. The mixture was made up of cocoa beans and sugar…. and was called chocolate! In 1825 he made his dream come true, when he opened up his first store where everyone could buy chocolate at affordable prices.
In 1875, his son in law “invented” the 1st milk chocolate bar in the world. Daniel Peter and Charles-Amédée Kohler (the founder of chocolate praline) began working with Nestle in 1905 and began producing milk chocolate bars that were sold through the companies’ international network. In 1911 Peter & Kohler merged with Cailler and optimized the various techniques of chocolate making, for an even better quality product. A few years later, in 1929 the brand Cailler merged with Nestle, where the company transferred all of its expertise in the production of chocolate to all of its factories in the following years.
Have you ever wondered why the Swiss milk chocolate we all love so much, has such a velvety and rich taste of milk? It is nothing more than the unique process that was developed at that time and is still used today. And to be more precise, the use of condensed milk which comes from the area of Gruyère in the Alps, instead of powdered milk which is used to make other chocolate.
So our trip began on Sunday at around noon, when we travelled to Geneva. From there, we rented a car, packed up all of our equipment and started making our way towards Vevey, the small town where Nestlé’s headquarters are situated. And let me tell you what a wonderful view of Geneva’s lake they have!
When the photoshoot was completed, we took a drive, had some coffee, ate at the Ze Fork and rushed off to check into our hotel… the Hotel Cailler, because their reception desk closes at 11.00 pm. We got there at 10.58! since it was a 40 minute drive. In Switzerland you have to learn to follow the countries’ “program” or else you might find many places such as restaurants or receptions desks closed! If you are not used to such structure in your country, get all of the information beforehand.
The following morning, a beautiful Monday with a scenic Swiss background and the sun on our tail, began. We made our way towards Broc to find Nestlé’s Chocolate Centre of Excellence. It is a factory, a chocolate museum and also the place where chocolate workshops are held.
Adeline and Vanessa, researchers in food technology, explained the correct way to taste chocolate! It has to be objective and of course it is based on the 5 senses… sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. We tried the classic Nestle Dessert couverture.
In the afternoon, we met and spoke with the best chocolatier in the world, for 2015, Geraldine Müller. She showed us how to work with chocolate in her workshop.
When it was over, we decided to become tourists for a while and visit the castle of Gruyères, to see the view and try their classic cheese and of course taste some cheese fondue.
The next day, we took a quick visit to the chocolate museum and were lucky enough to be allowed in to the company’s chocolate factory. We followed all of the strict rules of hygiene they have and were dressed appropriately while we were able to see all of the various stages of chocolate production in detail.
I feel extremely lucky to have been given the chance to see such a process with my own eyes. A process not many people have the chance of seeing in their lives!
Iro, Dimitri, Thano and Chari, thank you for the great experience!