Geoseph Domenichiello is passionate about expanding people’s palates and minds with fine chocolate.
For 15 years, Domenichiello has been focused on the world of fine chocolate. He is a professional chocolate sommelier, chocolate maker (someone who makes chocolate from scratch) and a master chocolatier (artisans who source chocolate for their own creations). He recently began sharing his experience and knowledge in Salmon Arm through educational chocolate tastings, private and public, from a commercial space at 204-271 Ross St. (above Pharmasave).
Domenichiello explained a chocolate sommelier is similar to a wine or cheese sommelier, someone who is well versed in that niche and able to educate people about it.
“They have a passion for it,” said Domenichiello. “Not only do they understand the qualities and how to discern them, they’re good at teaching people… Wine, cheese, coffee all have those similar components of understanding the regional differences, the ingredient differences, the process and how that influences the flavour, and also how to understand the flavour… they all parallel.”
Through his tastings, Domenichiello attempts to expose people to the complexities of fine chocolate, and how different it is from what many people know as chocolate.
“We grew up with basically a few companies in the world… pumping out chocolate, and they sort of dictated what chocolate should taste like,” said Domenichiello. “Now we have what I call bean-to-bar chocolate makers, fine chocolate makers… They’re not just grinding up the same cacao as Nestle and Hershey…, they’re finding rare, very rare types of cacao out there, and when I say rare, I mean less than one per cent of the world’s cacao…
“Most of the cacao that goes into chocolate in the world is a very narrow spectrum of cacao, so it all tastes the same. But it’s kind of like heirloom vegetables, there are many different kinds of cacao, and people have just never experienced that before and that’s sort of what the fine chocolate world focuses on.”
Domenichiello’s chocolate tastings also focus on geography, history and flavour. He encourages participants to share what it is their palate is picking up, and compare that to the flavours suggested by the chocolate maker.
“I try to tell them how that parallels, where you’re coming from, why they’re picking up those notes – people don’t really think about food in this way, so as they do, it just becomes more satisfying to them. They don’t realize food or chocolate can be so interesting.
“We have a misconception of flavour – a lot of things people enjoy are usually the basic tastes – like sour, salty, sugar, and the flavour is just kind of sprinkled in a little bit. People think flavour is in the food, that we pick it up in our mouth. No, flavour is a perception in the brain.
“Think of anything you do; if you go travelling or if you listen to music or read a book your brain is being stimulated. That’s what’s so satisfying. When you focus on food that way… then you begin to find more satisfaction in something.”
Domenichiello hails from Woodbridge, Ont. Growing up, his passions in life were animals, art and food. After high school, he went to university where he focused on sciences, biology and fine arts. With no specific career in mind, he decided to get into a pastry arts program.
“I went to pastry school and saw a job ad for chocolate sommelier,” said Domenichiello. “I thought that was very interesting. I researched it and ended up getting the job… and started growing my passion from there.”
To become a chocolate sommelier, Domenichiello explained there was no formal education program at the time. So he learned from the person who hired him and fell back on his training in the sciences to do his own research.
“I just delved into research, articles and books, and talked to other researchers and experiencing and so I basically built my own curriculum and that’s what I teach others,” said Domenichiello.
In addition to the tastings, Domenichiello also founded beantobarworld.com. Described as The Ultimate Fine Chocolate Portal, the website offers educational material, contacts for tasting events, and a shop with a wide range of bean-to-bar chocolates.
“I think when it comes to chocolate, I don’t try to make people feel bad if they like a Cadbury bar or a Lindt bar,” said Domenichiello. “I just want them to understand truly what bean-to-bar chocolate is, what fine chocolate is, I want them to understand the difference…
“It’s about questioning flavour, questioning your food, questioning how we view food and how we view flavour… I want people to think and ponder and explore. Because when you’re eating, you don’t analyze what does an orange taste like, or how do you explain the flavour of an orange to someone who never tried it. So that’s the sort of avenues I try to get people thinking about.”
For more information and to book a tasting, visit geoseph.com.
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