Chocolate master Jacques Torres has expanded his dessert empire by opening an 8th location in New York City’s iconic Grand Central Station. Stacked shelves of hand-made and hand-packaged chocolate items and trays of freshly made bon-bons are on display in a welcoming space that is ideal for a quick snack to go or for enjoying a sweet moment among the hustle and bustle of the station. Torres’ latest addition comes on the heels of the opening of his brand-new factory that opened this past summer in Brooklyn.
Mr. Chocolate took time out of the kitchen to talk about his passion for chocolate, his expanding empire and just how much candy he really eats.
How did you know chocolate would be your career focus?
I did not find chocolate right away. When I was younger I know I wanted to be a craftsman, my dad was a carpenter, I wanted to work with my hands. This is something I was sure about, very early on. I started my apprenticeship when I was still a teenager, in pastry. I discovered chocolate through my work as a Pastry Chef and very quickly I became fascinated by it. I always liked the taste, the texture and also what you can do with chocolate, naturally it became what I wanted to do with my life as an entrepreneur.
What was creating your new Brooklyn factory like?
Creating a factory is a big challenge! What we were all the most worried about is to see if everything would work smoothly. We drew everything on paper, we calculated everything on plans and when you turn the machine on, you just hope everything falls together. And it did! I was extremely relieved to see how smooth it was already when we started the production in the new facility.
How inspiring is a location like iconic Grand Central Station?
I love how Grand Central Terminal’s team always puts NYC brands on a pedestal. They are always showcasing brands that are real and authentic. At Jacques Torres Chocolate this is what we are trying our best to convey. If you walk through the market, between the Lexington Passage and the Gray Bar Passage, you will immediately understand by seeing these beautiful NYC companies which only sell local products.
Chocolate is an experience at other locations. Do you think the in-and-out of Grand Central will change that?
I do not think it would change anything. All of our locations have their own soul, atmosphere and ambiance… Each store successfully caters to its unique customer locale.
What is your favorite chocolate?
The ones that I make of course! I can never make a choice. In the morning I might crave for a piece of dark chocolate, something bitter, that I would eat like I drink a coffee. While in the afternoon I might want something more creamy and comforting and would go for a piece of Milk Chocolate Bark… I like chocolate, anytime, all the time, just not the same every time.