Behind the scenes at the Cacao Barry Flavour Dinner. Photo: @cacaobarryofficial
TORONTO—On Monday, October 21, media and the food industry senses were awakened to the flavors of beer, food, and chocolate at Cacao Barry’s 11th annual Flavour Dinner. The event took place at the Liberty Commons, a cozy nook within Big Rock Brewery, where 20 food industry guests were treated to an immersive culinary journey. Mingled amongst the guests were representatives from Cacao Barry, who were there to share in the delight of the inspirational menu and respond to any chocolate-related questions.
Toronto is the ideal setting for the Flavour Dinners, said Frederique Jacoby, marketing coordinator of Barry Callebaut Gourmet Canada, due to its vibrant culinary scene and innovation. The Flavour Dinners were designed to introduce leading chefs in Canada to both Cacao Barry’s products and the possibilities of using chocolate in their menus.
The evening’s dinner was the joint inspiration of chefs John Horne, of Canoe Restaurant, and Ryan Lister, of Big Rock Brewery, both of whom are known for their creative, locally inspired meals. The only direction was that each dish must include chocolate from Cacao Barry’s diverse line of products.
Upon arrival, guests were greeted with a Welcome 0% IPA from Big Rock Brewery and urged to sample a variety of Cacao Barry’s chocolates. The energy in the room was electric as attendees chattered about the menu and eagerly awaited the onset of their tasting experience.
With a tap of the keg, Horne and Lister announced that dinner was ready, and the eager guests sat at one of the four tables in the room. The beautifully orchestrated event combined the dish presentation with Horne highlighting details on the plate including how Cacao Barry’s chocolate were used. The first plating was an elegantly rustic presentation of three bite-size appetizers: Newfoundland Tuna, Quebec Stag Tartar, and King Cole Duck Profiterole plated on a wooden board.
After the guests’ appetites were primed, Horne introduced the next delight, British Suet Dumpling, which included Cacao Barry’s 70% Saint Domingue, with roasted duck, red currant jelly, and squash. The dish was served with Big Rock’s Mindbender, a white stout with hints of cacao and coffee.
The meal continued with the vegetable entrée, a 12- hour sweet potato enhanced with red skin peanut butter and Cacao Barry’s Ruby RB1, which brightened the dish with its hue and fruity taste profile. Known as the fourth type of chocolate, ruby chocolate’s pink color is a natural occurrence that comes from the ruby cocoa bean.
Throughout the evening, Horne’s mouth-watering meals enticed guests to explore the diversity of Cacao Barry’s chocolates while Big Rock’s brewery’s beers enhanced the journey. The conversation at each table was lively as the attendees chatted about the meals, while also brainstorming future recipe ideas.
As the tasting menu continued, Horne shared his use of Cacao Barry’s zephyr caramel in a pork belly dish and how the 75% Tanzania dark chocolate elevated the cacao and coffee applewood smoked beef fat roasties. The evening wrapped up with the sweet finish of a s’mores ice cream sandwich enhanced by Cacao Barry’s Alunga 41%.
Cacao Barry’s Flavour Dinners are an innovative way to showcase both the talents of local chefs and the diversity of their chocolate products. The overall experience provided attendees with much more than a chocolate sampling; instead, it was an opportunity to be inspired by the chefs’ creative use of Cacao Barry’s products and become fully immersed in the tasting journey. As the evening drew to a close, it was clear that the event had a positive impact, with several guests lingering to rave about the tasting menu and brainstorm how to integrate the chocolate products in their recipes.