CSL Interviews | Cecilia Tessieri of Amedei Chocolate

By Kailash Maharaj
December 18, 2008

 

Courtesy Amedei

Cecilia Tessieri. Courtesy Amedei.

Their dream to make the best chocolate in the world, from bean to bar led the sister and brother team Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri to form exclusive contracts with producers in Venezuela, Trinidad, Grenada, Ecuador, and Jamaica and to create Amedei. Earning the golden bean award from London’s Academy of chocolate for three years, and with praise from restaurants (French Laundry, Le Bernardin, and The Fat Duck) Amedei’s exquisite packaging, and complex chocolates have garnered acclaim worldwide. CSL interviewed Ms. Tessieri, one of a few female master chocolatiers globally, to talk exclusively about her passion, determination and love of chocolate.

CSL: What are some of your memories of chocolate as a child?
Tessieri: As every other kid I was used to having a little bar of chocolate at times, but I had already developed a craze for it, to me chocolate was unlike any other kind of sweet.  Little by little it has become a sort of fascination and it still continues.

CSL: You mentioned that when you first started Amedei it was difficult, what was some good advice that you were given at this time to help you
persevere?
Getting a company started is always difficult, but with chocolate it was even more. I was conscious of the issue of competition with other products of the kind and I was consistent  with the idea that my chocolate had to be made with the best beans and worked out with the best possible process. I knew I was starting a business, of course, it had to be rentable but I also knew that I could not renounce to the creative part of it and to achieving the best quality possible.
From then on, to me the challenge is always there.

CSL: You speak poetically about chocolate.  Where did the initial passion for making the best chocolate in the world come from?
If you find a strain of poeticism is my words that is because all my passion for chocolate in these years has grown with a sort of creative spirit which needed to be expressed.

CSL: Why is cacao from Trinidad/Chuao region so prized in Amedei’s chocolate making process?

It goes with the way the seeds are planted and grown, the climate and why not, the campesinos’ special care, an of course agronomists guided by by brother Alessio.

CSL: What distinguishes these Criollo and Trinitario beans?
The shape of  the caboose is different, as well as the  seeds and last but not least you recognize them when you do the cut test

CSL: What is the philosophy behind Amedei?
It is evident that our aim is creating a larger and larger number of people sharing this sense of excellence and appreciating our efforts and dedication. Our clients usually associate our chocolate to important and happy moments of their lives, and this is very rewarding and encouraging for us.

CSL:  How do you refine your palette to taste the subtleties of each chocolate?
That is something you acquire with experience and it is a skill of the taste, provided that you have a zest for this product and an inclination of the mind

CSL: You have a unique selection of filled chocolates, based on the meditative properties of chocolate, how did you come up with the flavour profiles?
That attains to the special properties that each of us may attribute to colours, shapes and taste, so the flavour this filled chocolate have comes from a long study and strong memories.
For example my moka praline has the intriguing taste and flavour of Sunday morning moka coffe.

CSL: Can you tell us some of your favourite ways to eat and use chocolate?
To me chocolate should be cherished together with the people we love,  slowly to sense the harmony of its ingredients. It can , of course, be associated with other food not necessarily sophisticated. What about a simple slice of bread for example, with my new “Crema Toscana” ? Please try it and tell me.

CSL: What would you say to someone who does not like chocolate?
I find it difficult to think that chocolate may displease anyone, anyway I would suggest: try an Amedei napolitain, either black or white , you won’t be disappointed.

CSL:  Why do you think it has taken so long for Italian made chocolate to blossom globally?
Probably it is a question of tradition. In cold countries eating and producing chocolate may be more evident, but if we come to quality , Italian products are now among the best. As you know, we have been awarded 3 times from the London Chocolate Academy.

CSL:  What can you tell us about working with your family?
It has been a very good chance. Each of us has his field of competence according to his personal skill and training. Then there is my mother who represents a moment of synthesis and adjustment.

CSL: You have traveled a lot as master chocolatier, what are some of your favourite cities to travel to and why?
It may easy to say Paris but I would also mention London, Tokyo. Actually my task is to find stimuli for my job and in these countries as in other circumstances of life I find inspiration and new ideas..

CSL: What is the future goal of Amedei?
Never stop looking for the best, never compromise, this is our personal philosophy. Of course this can be achieved only because we are a family based company.

CSL: Why is making chocolate from bean to bar having such popularity today?
Demanding people are eager to know what the food is made of. A good chocolate can only be made with the total control of growing and production process from bean to bar.