Monday, February 08, 2010

Sweet Treat of the Week: Oliver Kita!

This week's Sweet Treat of the Week is Oliver Kita, a chocolatier based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. (Why, oh why couldn't he have been around when I was little and we went to Rhinebeck every summer with my dad's model airplane club to the Aerodrome?)

Mr. Kita has serious credentials, and clearly he's passionate about chocolate. So let's have a chat with him, shall we?

You have a dream job. How did you get there?
I have always been a pastry chef and worked with chocolate. I have been creating pastry for a long time and this step just seemed like the next thing I wanted to do with my career. I feel excited about chocolate whenever I am working with it. Still do-- even today!

What are some of your favorites that you’ve created?
Palet d’Opium (blood orange, lapsang and spice) was inspired by Pearl S. Buck and her book "Imperial Woman," the story of the last empress of China before the Boxer Rebellion. I have always been influenced by Asian culture.

What do you think people are looking for in chocolate? Have tastes changed over the years?

People are looking for the most dark, dramatic, intense experience imaginable. They equate the percentage with the quality and we know that it’s not always true-- it’s just the amount of cacao content and sugar-- not the quality. One must rely upon the manufacturer of the chocolate. The American palate is improving – I see this as I tour with the chocolate to different festivals in Colorado, Miami and New York. We sample only dark Valrhona chocolate 70% from Venezuela at the shows. I used to be just beside myself with wondering, “Why is everyone asking is there milk in this chocolate- it’s dark French chocolate!” Turns out the American palate is used to Pennsylvania created chocolate that was inspired by Hershey's or Nestle and that always contains milk solids even in the dark chocolate. I finally figured it out after reading the Hershey label.

What’s your comfort chocolate? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Usually a praline or a marzipan enrobed. Sometimes, I love pistachio marzipan.

I like dark milks when I don’t feel well or am fatigued.

Are there any flavors that don’t go well with chocolate?

Well, what do you have in mind? These days they are trying everything possible.

I haven’t seen tofu or seaweed yet-- but just wait-- someone from Japan will try it out for the thrill.

They were dipping pickles at a festival I was attending last month. They sold OUT!

However, I haven’t tried beef jerky dipped in chocolate-- and probably won’t go there either.

I love your chocolate Buddhas. Why Buddha?

Mind Body Chocolate everyday. I try to help my clients learn to meditate with chocolate by staying present with the taste.

Do you have a favorite candy-related memory?

Bubble gum cards with trading images, Sour Heads, jaw breakers, and I loved “Spree” when I was in the 5th grade.

What advice do you have for chocolate-lovers?

Follow your dream and stay connected to the passion and it will take you where you need to be in this lifetime.

Where else can one say that they have to go to Paris to taste chocolate at the next salon festival and it’s considered work!

Indeed! I'd love to be able to say that!

Check out Oliver Kita's Valentine chocolates, tasting kits, Buddhas and more at

No comments: