Confiseur Georg Bernardini wrote the book of books for chocoholics among us. – it’s the holy grail for every chocolate lover and we can’t live without it anymore. What made him decide to write this 5.5 pound thick book and what is his message for us? At the moment he owns his very own candy and chocolate store at the königswinter straßen 624 in Bonn, called: Georgia Ramon.
As a child he already loves candy. His parents had a Italian restaurant in Rolandseck near Bonn. While growing up he discovered his passion for desserts and chocolate. Not much later Georg became a patissier in a star restaurant in France.
One day he decided to travel around the world and write about chocolate: today … thousands of people are enjoying his book. – what more could Georg have dreamt of? – well, he is about to share it with you in this interview. So, grab a bar of fine chocolate and enjoy the conversation.
2012 has become the year that you published your first book: ‘Der Schokoladentester’, In 2015 you published a update called: ‘Chocolate The Reference Standard’: what is the difference? | The new edition has more reviews:
2012: 231 companies, 38 countries and 2.700 reviewed products
2015: 550 companies, 70 countries and 4.000 reviewed products
In 2012 there where only artisan companies, in 2015 I added industrial companies such as Hershey’s, Cadbury and Milka, because many readers asked for this. I also added new chapters as “About cultivation and processing on a cocoa farm”, “Raw Chocolate and Superfood”, “The Heirloom project” or “Pairing with wine, beer, whiskey and rum”. Some of the new chapters are written from gast authors such as Mark Christian, Duane Dove or Jochen Weber. This are the most important changes.
For people who are new in the world of origin chocolate; can you tell them why they should need to discover your book? | First of all they will get the most completely overview about the bean-to-bar companies which exist worldwide. But they will also discover which companies don’ t produce bean-to-bar themselves. With my reviews they can understand the difference between the producers, but also between their products. They can learn about different ways to produce chocolate and a lot of things about ingredients.
In your book every product receives a score, I wonder if there’s a big difference between the taste of expensive chocolate or cheaper chocolate? – not to mention very cheap chocolate? | In general the expensive products are from better quality, but sometimes not. Very few cheap products are of good quality. The most important thing for me is that mostly bean-to-bar chocolates are of better quality than other chocolates ( Private Label or molded couvertures ). But also between B2B-chocolates you find good and bad qualities. It becomes very difficult to choose the right company / product. In principle: Expensive or B2B don’ t guaranteed high quality.
Did you had to travel a lot for your reviews, or has the chocolates been sent to your home adres? | I have traveled to Australia, Japan, USA, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Great Britain and many Cities in Germany. I got some chocolates from the producers directly, but I also bought many chocolates myself. In total I spend more than €8.000 for samples.
Before I knew your book, as a chocolate lover: I had this list with over 200 different chocolate brands in a notebook. It must has been a difficult search for you to find all those chocolate brands in such a big world. What was your strategy? | Yes, it was difficult to find the B2B companies. I searched via search Google, Twitter and all blogs I knew. But more difficult was to get in contact with the producers and to get answers. I send to the most companies a questionnaire, but even after three-for reminders I didn’ t got an answer. I even called some by phone, but no answers. I was sometimes brutal to get chocolates, some chocolate makers refused to send me chocolates, even not for money. So I asked friends to buy them for me and to send them to Germany. The most expensive chocolates came from Argentina. I spend for the shipping more than $100.
Chocolate – The Reference Standard is almost like a Bible for chocolate lovers, but also like a catalog. – can we expect another version in 5 or 10 years from now on? | As I restarted to produce chocolate myself you can’t expect a new edition.
Do you sometimes buy supermarket chocolate the sneaky way or only origin chocolate? | I can not remember since I bought the last time chocolate in the supermarket. So no, I never buy chocolate in the supermarket.
What is that golden rule for connoisseurs and supermarket chocolate? – it seems like when you go for origin chocolate you just can’t go back anymore without a figurative slap on the fingers | The golden rule is that there is no good chocolate in the supermarket. If you want to buy good chocolate you have to go to a speciality shop.
You started creating chocolate again, how is thing going so far? | It is very difficult to produce B2B chocolate in a such small scale. We produce 10 kg-batches with a granite melange and it cost a lot of time. But our customers love what we do and the taste of our chocolates and this makes me very happy.
Could you use the knowledge of your chocolate discovery for your own brand? | Yes and No. Sometimes it is an handicap as often ideas can be a copy. Our new design for the packaging was a big challenge. I had to avoid any similarity with a design which you can find in my book. I think that we found a design which is unique and nobody can say that we made a copy of somebody else. When we take an idea from another company we communicate it to our customers. For example: We will make a very hot chili bar soon, made with the hottest Chili in the world, Carolina Reaper. This bar doesn’ t make any sense as it is really very hot. This chocolate bar is an inspiration of Jeff Shepherd’s Chili bar “Do not eat this chocolate” ( Lillie Belle Farms ). On the back of this bar we wrote exactly this.
Where are you in 10 years? | My aim is to establish a small B2B brand in Germany / Europe and to be able to manage a small, sustainable and healthy company. I hope to become one of the quality leaders in the craft bean-to-bar business.
What would you like to share with chocolate lovers around the world? | Chocolate lovers around the world should should support craft bean-to-bar companies ( especially local craft B2B-companies ) and stop buying industrial chocolate. Better to enjoy small quantities of great chocolates than big quantities of bad chocolates. Don’t believe all what producers say / write. Chocolate lovers should questioning more if companies are not open and are about to hide things.