When it comes to chocolate, executive chef Matthew Piekarski and co-founder and developer Matthew Silverman are your go-to guys for authentic, handcrafted delicacies. Between Piekarski’s creativity and Silverman’s experience and love of the food industry, the two collaborated to create Hexx Chocolate, an exciting candy store in Las Vegas.
“We’ve always been candy-centric,” says Piekarski. But the two chefs wanted to be relevant on both sides of production, which led them to chocolate-making blended with restaurant and retail.
All five of their chocolate flavors come from a single origin and reflect the unique cacao flavor of each country, including: Peru, Tanzania, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Madagascar.
“Finding the beans is the hardest part,” says Silverman. Piekarski and Silverman work closely with farmers in each country and only use the top 5 percent best flavored beans.
Notably, Piekarski and Silverman only use two ingredients — cacao beans and organic coconut palm sugar. Piekarski and Silverman’s goal is to heighten the unique flavor of the cacao, so they opt for the most natural and simplest ingredients possible.
Chef Matthew Piekarski and Chef Matthew Silverman
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
P:Chocolate – a nice, dark craft chocolate.
S:Anything with chocolate and peanut butter.
What’s the last cool thing you saw online?
P:A 3-D printer for chocolate. It’s mind blowing that we can print food. I may be out of a job.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
S:I always knew that I wanted to be a chef and in the food business from a young age.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
P:The lack of artisan products available to the majority of consumers.
S:All of the products out there have so many additives instead of natural ingredients.
What’s the last book you read?
P:Heritage by Sean Brock. He’s an amazing chef trying to revive Southern cooking.
S:Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionary: Science and Technology by Bernard Minifie.
What is your pet peeve?
P:People who prefer to buy everything and create nothing from scratch.
S:People who refer to us as chocolatiers and not chocolate makers. Chocolatiers are people who buy someone else’s chocolate and add things to it. Chocolate makers are those who actually make the chocolate — we are chocolate makers.
If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?
P:I’d love to work with Alain Ducasse and make some amazing chocolate.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
P:Consistency is the hardest thing for a young chef. That is as true today as it was the first day I worked for my mentor.
S:Be true to what you believe.
What excites you most about your job?
P:I get the opportunity to make someone’s day better whether it’s traveling and sourcing beans in another country, cooking in my kitchen or making chocolate.
S:I get to create something unique and share it with people from all around the world.