Madagascar bar and cacao nibs.
||America has a new president, but also a new king…of chocolate. In mid-2006, we heard the buzz through the chocolate grapevine that some great chocolate was being produced by a physicist in Orem, Utah. We called to get some and were told by founder and chocolatier Art Pollard that he would let us know when the bars were ready for release. We were thrilled with them, and named Amano Artisan Chocolate, a Top Pick Of The Week. In the summer of 2007, at the Fancy Food Show, we watched at Amano’s booth as a stream of well-known chocolatiers stopped by to taste the goods of the new guy in town.
The small chocolatier, using traditional and antique equipment and incorporating both modern and ancient chocolate-making techniques, has received steady recognition. In addition to winning 2007 Outstanding New Product at the Fancy Food Show, some other awards include:
– 2007: L.A. International Chocolate Salon, Best Dark Chocolate and Best in Salon
– 2007: San Francisco International Chocolate Salon, Gold Medal for Best Dark Chocolate, Best Dark Chocolate Bar and Most Gifted Chocolatier
– 2008: Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon, Best Dark Chocolate
– 2008: London Academy of Chocolate, Bronze Medal, “Bean To Bar” Category
This year, Amano Artisan Chocolate has made a clean sweep at the prestigious Academy of Chocolate Awards in London, held last week. In this “Olympics” of the chocolate world, each Amano chocolate bar submitted received an award:
– GOLD: Madagascar 70%
– SILVER: Ocumare 70% (Venezuela)
– SILVER: Montanya 70% (Venezuela)
– BRONZE: Jembrana 70% (Indonesia)
– BRONZE: Ocumare Milk (Venezuela)
|With the Gold win for the Madagascar bar, Amano has claimed the highest award ever given to an American company for bean-to-bar dark chocolate (i.e., a company that buys and roasts its own beans and makes its own chocolate, as opposed to chocolatiers that purchase couverture chocolate from other manufacturers to make their bars and confections). Amano competed against more than 60 premium chocolatiers from around the world; more than 440 entries were judged in 14 categories. An esteemed panel of judges consisted of Academy members, Michelin-starred chefs, food writers and international chocolate professionals.
Past Academy Of Chocolate awards have been dominated by such esteemed industry names as Amedei (Italy), Valrhona (France), Michel Cluizel (France), and Domori (Italy)—all NIBBLE favorites. (Continue paragraph here). This is the first time that an American company has been honored in such a resounding way by the Academy. In fact, this is the first time the Academy has awarded Gold and Silver awards to an American chocolate company for dark chocolate. That each chocolate bar in Amano’s entire line (the company produces only bars) was given an award is an almost unheard of accomplishment. Last year, Amano was the first American chocolate company to receive an award for making dark chocolate—a Bronze for the Madagascar, which this year took the Gold. It’s in the DNA of dedicated artisans to strive to improve quality with each batch that they make. It’s especially rewarding when the industry’s tastemakers take notice. And it’s rewarding to all chocolatiers in the United States that a small American start-up is given the same accolades as longtime pillars of European artisan chocolate.
More Amano News
Amano has just debuted five new cacao nib varieties: Madagascar, Ocumare, Jembrana, Barlovento (Venezuela) and Accra (Ghana). Unlike other chocolate makers, who package their nibs abroad, Pollard and his team roast the beans and package the nibs on-site. They taste wonderfully fresh. If you are a chocolate geek, as we are, you’ll want to get them all ($9.95 to $11.95 per 6-ounce bag) and have a nib tasting. Not surprisingly, the nibs taste as different as the chocolate made from them, and it’s a rare experience to taste and compare the nibs and the bars made from them. Nibs can be tossed into salads, savory and sweet sauces, baked into cookies, cakes and brownies, and eaten as high-antioxidant “health food.”
All products can be purchased at AmanoChocolate.com. The company is still waiting for the packaging for the Montanya and Ocumare Milk bars, so you’ll find them in the online shop under “Previews.”