Friday, December 29, 2006

Chocolate Scandal!

From Scott at comes this tale of Noka, a high-end chocolatier headquarted in Plano, TX and named "#1 luxury chocolate in the world" by some British food show. I'm familiar with many chocolatiers (Richart and Kee's being among my favorites), but this was one I hadn't heard of before the article.

It's a long article, but well worth the read. It peels away the layers of deception the proprietors of Noka have set up around themselves. Reading their press, or even hearing them in interviews, you'd think that they are chocolate makers - taking carefully sourced cacao beans and turning them into their own couverture. But in fact, they're doing just what the rest of us are doing - buying a pre-made couverture and turning it into truffles and bon-bons.

But the rest of us aren't getting paid their prices! A 2-piece "encore" box of truffles is $17.50 - a princely $8.75 per truffle! A 4-piece box from the Vintages collection (tastings squares of single origin chocolates) is $16.00. Think that's extravagant, but not outrageous? Each tasting square weighs only seventy-five one thousandths of an ounce, meaning the price for the chocolate is $853/lb. And all Noka has done is temper the couverture they've bought and formed it into squares. I just tempered chocolate twice in the last 2 hours, and I can tell you it's not worthy of that kind of money! The truffles work out to $666/lb. Even names like La Maison du Chocolat and Michael Recchiuti - among the the most well known and expensive chocolatiers - top out at a mere $85/lb for their chocolates, which have carefully conceived fillings and actually required some thought!

Through some careful detective work, Scott actually manages to figure out what couverture the people at Noka are using, and reveals just how outrageous that markup really is. I won't spoil the surprise for you, because the story is very entertainingly told. It was like watching a soap opera - I kept gasping, shaking my head and saying "I can't believe it!"

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