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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

12/05/2016 - The Chocolate Show

What better way to celebrate the holidays than showcasing the world of chocolate.  We feature two renowned chocolatiers, both self trained, and both breaking boundaries when it comes to flavors and presentations.

Michael and Jacky Recchiuti 
San Francisco-based Recchiuti Confections was founded in 1997 by husband and wife team, Michael and Jacky Recchiuti. Committed to meticulously sourcing ingredients and hand- crafting small batches of product, using traditional European techniques, Recchiuti Confections has become renowned for its inventive and unparalleled quality. Modeled after the long-standing European chocolate houses, Recchiuti strives to offer excellent, elegant, and complex chocolates without pretense. 
At the forefront of the “artisan” chocolate movement, self-trained chocolatier Michael Recchiuti lives by the philosophy that once someone is introduced to truly exquisite chocolate, they will be won over instantly and forever. As such, Recchiuti continues to source the finest ingredients available, partnering and using Valrhona Chocolate and family-owned Guittard Chocolate throughout its creations. Additionally, Michael was one of the first American chocolatiers to design a custom couverture with Valrhona based on his own discerning palette. 
Deriving inspiration from the bounty of fresh herbs available at farmers’ markets, like lavender and lemon verbana, Recchiuti uses local fare to create signature infusions, and blends single origin chocolates to create complex and unique tasting experiences. All of Recchiuti’s confections are made by hand in the company’s production facility, and the company is proud to offer product lines spanning from classic boxed chocolates and caramels to burnt caramel and chocolate sauces, chocolate bars, Pâtes de Fruits and dragées, and baked goods such as the S’Mores Kit and Vanilla Bean Marshmallows. 
Recchiuti’s flagship retail store opened in 2003 in San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building Market, followed by Little Nib, a boutique shop in Dogpatch, in 2011. In 2014, Michael and Jacky opened theLab, an experiential space for food and craft artisans to come together, located next door to Little Nib. In November 2016, Recchiuti renovated theLab to créate a new and larger retail shop to showcase its confectionary creations; this space took the place of the Little Nib boutique which is now closed. Recchiuti products are also available to chocolate lovers nationwide online at

Michael Recchiuti Founder and Owner
Michael Recchiuti, a self-made chocolatier, has been experimenting in the kitchen all his life. A Philadelphia native, Michael got his start baking Italian wedding cakes alongside his grandmother as a boy, then creating plated desserts as a young man at the renowned restaurant Le Bec Fin, and even training with Alain Tricou (Maxim’s, Déjà Vu) for three years in sugar and chocolate. 
Drawn to San Francisco in 1987 by an exciting culinary, music, and arts scene, Michael found new inspiration in the year-round availability of fresh, local ingredients and international influences. Especially fascinated by the way traditionally savory flavors took on new dimensions and depth when combined with chocolate, his now famous chocolate flavors Tarragon Grapefruit, Lemon Verbena, and Star Anise & Pink Peppercorn were among his first “experiments.” An ongoing fascination along with a nostalgic nod to the tastes of his youth continue to inspire his more recent creations, like Peppermint Thins, Peanut Butter Pucks, and Vanilla Bean Marshmallows. 
In 1997, after years in the test kitchen, Michael founded Recchiuti Confections with his wife Jacky. Known for using traditional European techniques and equipment; and for hand-selecting every ingredient, Michael sources local California farmers’ markets for bundles of fresh herbs and fruits to create signature infusions and blends single origin chocolates together to create complex and unique tasting experiences. 
Taste and technique only tell part of Michael’s story. A life filled with art, music, and lots of friends has influenced the look of his chocolates, which act as a show-and-tell of his favorite things. Over the years, collections have showcased artwork from Creativity Explored, a San Francisco non-profit close to the Recchiuti’s heart, while others have been adorned with Japanese block prints, tiny love letters to his Hawaiian wife, Jacky. 
In 2005 Michael’s book Chocolate Obsession (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), co-authored with renowned pastry expert Fran Gage, was released to wide acclaim. The book was a finalist at the 2006 James Beard Awards and won high honors for photography and design at the 2006 International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference. 
Currently, Michael keeps busy with Recchiuti’s three locations, the Ferry Building Marketplace, Little Nib, and theLab, always finding new ways to make the chocolate consuming public happy, and obsessed. 

Jacky Recchiuti

Jacky Recchiuti hails from Hawaii, but was drawn to San Francisco in 1985 after falling in love with the city during a family trip. Michael and Jacky were married in 1991, and moved to Vermont to work at Twin Farms. It was in 1997 that the couple was able to conceptualize their dream of starting a confections business in San Francisco, one modeled after traditional French chocolate houses in both the techniques and methods used to craft its confections. Having previously held managerial roles at several luxury boutique hotels and high-touch service restaurants, Jacky’s foundation in the hospitality industry has continued to drive the look and feel of Recchiuti Confections, even touching the standard in which the company values service. In her own words, “Recchiuti models itself around Michael’s Italian-American upbringing of warmth and welcoming, and my background in Hawaii, translating the ‘Aloha’ spirit, into the San Francisco culture.” A vital player in the success of Recchiuti Confections, Jacky oversees the sales, business, and design aspects, most recently spearheading the redesign of theLab retail space in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.

Chris Kollar
Kollar Chocolates

From classic European-style chocolates, to new world flavors, Chris Kollar has brought a taste of something new to Yountville in the heart of Napa Valley, California. Surrounded by wineries and world-renowned restaurants, a visit to Kollar Chocolates perfectly rounds out the Napa gourmet experience.

Artisan Chocolatier Chris Kollar welcomes customers to watch and learn about quality handmade chocolate through a glass show kitchen, where he produces his small batch confections. On the other side of the glass, the Kollar Chocolates team offers pre-packaged and to-order chocolates, Gelato, and Espresso coffee.

Kollar Chocolates' packaging is recyclable and uses fair trade and local seasonal ingredients whenever possible. For instance, lavender and fennel pollen truffles are made with flowers from certified organic Peter Jacobsen’s Orchards in Yountville.

Chris Kollar is a chef with a particular passion for chocolate. Trained as a savory chef, Chris is a self-taught chocolatier. His inspiration is European classic chocolate making. He has traveled Europe extensively, particularly Switzerland, France, and Italy to study and learn about classic chocolates, bringing this knowledge back to his own practice. Before Kollar Chocolates, Chris had worked in kitchens across the country and beyond for 19 years, starting with his hometown of Atlanta, then working around the country and the Cayman Islands. In 2001 he settled in the Napa Valley and worked at Domaine Chandon, Tra Vigne, Pinot Blanc, and Go Fish and ultimately at Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga as Executive Chef, where his passion for chocolate flourished.

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