Chocolate. Chocolat. A word that sounds tasty in any language.
Monbana Chocolatier Masterclass
I am at the first Monbana Chocolatier Masterclass in Sydney, an event held by Apromo Trading at Chef Stephane Jegat’s Kobe Jones Restaurant. Geoffroy Maubon, Monbana’s Premier Barista is about to present a masterclass on hot and cold chocolate drinks to an audience of customers, retailers, chefs and chocolatiers.
I am expected a little early and after a convivial introduction to the Apromo team, conversations in French begin to flow. While the preparations are underway, I am offered a tour of the restaurant.
Kobe Jones Restaurant
Chef Stéphane Jegat
I am privileged to have Executive Chef Stéphane Jegat show me around. Born in Grenoble in France, Stephane comes from a long line of patissier chefs dating back to 1790. As a young pastry apprentice who had done well in the Meilleur Apprentice de France, he was offered to work at Fauchon under Pierre Hermé and subsequently moved to Paris.
His impressive resumé includes working at Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in England, then as Head Pastry Chef of the Hilton Tokyo Bay in Japan, and Executive Pastry chef for the Peninsula group in Manilla. In 1992, he opened Kobe Jones in Sydney, and after a brief period in Kuwait, he returned to Kobe Jones as Executive Pastry Chef and later as Executive chef at Kobe Jones in 2008.
Interior of Kobe Jones Restaurant at King Street Wharf
Kobe Jones occupies a prime position along King Street Wharf with waterfront views of Darling Harbour. Described as a restaurant serving modern Japanese cuisine with a Californian twist, it was established 9 years ago. The restaurant’s stylish interior is decorated in dark brown tones accentuated with bold reds and gold light fittings.
Water Views overlooking Darling Harbour
The all-weather balcony seating adds a sense of space and maximises the enjoyment of the water view where boats are decked on this sunny autumn afternoon.
I am particularly taken with an almost private dining area with overhanging paper that carries the elegant Zen theme throughout the premises.
The spacious teppanyaki section has been converted for the masterclass. Rows of red upholstered chairs face the marble top bench surrounding the stainless steel top where prepping is underway.
Prepping for Masterclass
I take a sneak peek and spot chocolate in all shapes and forms.
Monbana Chocolatier Masterclass
The masterclass begins with a brief introduction. Monbana is a French chocolatier house founded in 1934 by Louis Guattari and has remained a family business. Specialising in the manufacture of cocoa butter and cocoa powder, the enterprise has grown into roasting and pressing their own beans, and developing cocoa powder. Monbana sources their cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Venezuela and Peru.
Monbana’s First Barista Geoffroy Maubon begins the class using Monbana Trésor de Chocolat, 33% cocoa powder made with butter and sugar. He shakes the container as if mixing a cocktail and explains the importance of shaking the product before opening it as the contents may have settled during transport.
Geoffroy (pronounced Jeff-rwah) froths 200 ml of milk in a coffee machine to 75ºC then adds 25g of Trésor de Chocolat for a good balance. We are given a little taste. The hot chocolate is smooth and creamy with a marked cocoa flavour, though some people in the audience find it a little on the sweet side for their palates.
Trésor can be mixed with flavoured syrups, alcohol and fruit, and goes well with soy milk.
Next, he explains how to use the Hot Chocolate Machine which has a maximum capacity of 1 kilo of cocoa to 5 litres of milk. He starts by setting the temperature to 90ºC then adds 1L of milk which is the minimum capacity. It takes 10 minutes to reach 90ºC before he adds 200g of cocoa powder and allows it to mix for 10 minutes. He then adds another 1L of milk, waiting another 10 min to reach 90ºC . When final milk is added, he turns it down to 60ºC. The hot chocolate mixture can then keep for 10 hours.
Monbana hot chocolate machine
The next product is Monbana Suprême de Chocolat, a thicker Italian style hot chocolate, with 32% cocoa, butter and sugar, with the thickening agent being potato starch. He adds 50 grams of the Suprême to 200 ml of milk, highlighting that this product needs good aeration for maximum taste.
Monbana’s Premier Barista Geoffroy Maubon with Monbana Supreme
The darker chocolate mixture has a richer taste than Trésor – rich, velvety and more luxuriant. We are offered to taste with a spoon.
Chocolate-lines cups for tasting
Using Trésor de Chocolat Blanc, we are treated to an appetising cocktail using a combination of ice cubes, mango, syrup and white chocolate.
White Chocolate and Mango Syrup Cocktail
By using a soda siphon, Geoffroy creates a chocolate mousse style dessert which is served in chocolate cups topped with a strawberry.
Chocolate mousse cups ready for tasting
Chocolate mousse cups with strawberry
I particularly like the taste and presentation of the chocolate mousse cups. We are informed that some cafés in Europe serve a Café Gourmand which is made up of a coffee and two chocolate cups.
Chocolate Banana Rum Cocktail
An elaborate Frappé can be made by adding fruit and alcohol with the chocolate drink, mixing it in a blender for 45 seconds and serving it in a rimmed glass.
Chocolate Marshmallow Cocktail
Trésor de Chocolat Blanc, which is the number one product in Greece, is made of 40% cocoa powder and butter. 35g of this chocolate are added to 200 ml of milk for a smooth and creamy hot white chocolate.
Hot white chocolate
Geoffroy and audience
The masterclass ends with my favourite drink of the day, a Cappuccino Frappé made with 3 cups of ice cubes, 4 spoonfuls of the Frappé Ice Cappuccino mix and 600 ml of milk. The drink has a good balance of coffee and chocolate, and makes a refreshing alternative on hot summer days while delivering a caffeine fix.
Cappuccino Chocolate Frappé
Canapés by Kobe Jones Restaurant
Once the masterclass is over, we have a chance to mingle over drinks and canapés. Platters of Beef and Chicken Yakitori and Tsukune, minced chicken with ginger and garlic in a soy-based sauce are presented on pineapples. There are roasted vegetables with asparagus, eggplant and shiitake mushrooms and Baked Prawns with Pepper and a Spicy Sauce that leave you wanting more.
My favourite canapé is a regular feature on the Kobe Jones menu. The No1 Special is a delectable crab salad with avocado wrapped in seaweed and Hiramasa kingfish with anago sauce.
Canapés by Kobe Jones
Tsukune (right), minced chicken with ginger and garlic and a soy-based sauce
Beef and chicken Yakitori on pineapples
No. 1 Special, crab salad with avocado wrapped in seaweed and Hiramasa (kingfish) with anago sauce
Baked prawns with pepper and spicy sauce
Roasted vegetables with asparagus, eggplant and shiitake mushrooms
Le Barista, Le Chef et Moi
Before everyone leaves, I conduct a mini interview in French with Geoffroy Maubon and ask him about his position as Monbana’s Premier Barista. Parisian by birth now based in Barcelona, he has been with the company for seven years, travelling the world demonstrating their products and creating all their recipes and cocktails for worldwide use. With an extensive background in alimentation, food and hospitality, including some 25 years with luxury products, he has recently helped launch Monbana chocolate drinks in Singapore with great success.
When I ask him what he thinks of the Australian market when it comes to chocolate drinks, he replies with one word, neuf / new – an opinion with which I agree based on my travel experiences. He tells me that his passion is to make people “gouter le vrai chocolat”, to taste real chocolate, and that message is evident in the way he speaks and in the delivery of the masterclass.
(L) Executive Chef Stephane Jegat of Kobe Jones Restaurants and (R) Geoffroy Maubon, First Barista of Monbana
After the formalities, I get a chance to speak in private with Stephane Jegat about his remarkable career as a chef which eventually brought him to Australian shores. As the sun sets over Darling Harbour bathing the restaurant in warm lighting, we clink wine glasses with a hearty Santé! The conversation naturally switches to French. Among many things, I learn that he has contributed to the Salt Book by Arbon Publishing, an event I attended last year. We talk about world cuisines, the French influence, notable restaurants in Paris, the best of French food and drink, and everything that centres around la bonne bouffe – good food.
For me, it was a rare and a privileged opportunity to meet with an admirable chef, to speak informally in French and discuss a shared passion that is la cuisine française.
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Gourmantic attended the Monbana Chocolatier Masterclass at Kobe Jones Restaurant as a media guest.
Kobe Jones Restaurant
29 Lime Street
King Street Wharf, Sydney
Apromo Trading Pty Ltd
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