Executive Chef Chocolatier Thierry Muret has worked for Godiva more than 30 years. Often when Muret’s asked how he could work for just one company that long, the native Belgian explains that “no one year was similar.”
It’s a matter of “looking at our patrons and continuously evolving with the times,” he says. And that extends to the company’s Gold Discovery Collection.
“Traditionally, Gold has represented our base, our platform which we’ve built the brand on,” Muret says. “It’s the DNA of our brand and represents a certain style.”
Godiva’s new Gold Discovery Collection reflects a contemporary twist on past favorites, as well as a new approach to shapes, textures and flavors.
“All chefs continue to evolve, from the kind of silverware and plate ware they use to the offerings they prepare,” he explains. For example, plate ware in the past tended to be round. Today, it’s angular, be it squares, rectangles or triangles. Even silverware has changed, both in color and materials.
“There’s also a more modern approach to flavors,” Muret adds. “Flavors are more intense, more complex, which dovetail with smaller and more petite portions. Today, chefs have more tools to accommodate flavors. This allows them to showcase the main flavor, which is paired with a secondary flavor. It’s all about sequential, balanced flavors. In the end, balance is the key in the super premium category.”
And as the executive chef chocolatier points out, confectioners are part of the culinary world. Consequently, chocolatiers today can use all the technologies of the culinary world.
Muret didn’t hesitate in providing examples present in the Gold Discovery Collection. The Double Dark Chocolate Swirl features an 85 percent dark chocolate ganache moulded into a dark chocolate swirl shell.
“As I said, angles are in, hence the swirl,” he says. “The 85 percent ganache doesn’t have any astringency on the plate, just a pronounced delivery of dark chocolate flavor.”
When discussing the Pecan Praline Allure, Muret was quick to point out that this praline is made in the old-fashioned way – cooking it in a slurry using roasted nuts. The sugar is drained, leaving a coating on the nuts, which are then roasted again, allowing the sugar to caramelize and create a rounded balance.
“We add some vanilla, which pushes the flavors up, enhancing them while balancing the acidic flavors. We use pecans from Georgia, which provide a rounded, continental flavor that’s woody, milky, rich and deep,” he adds.
It’s also the first time that Godiva is using a pecan nut in its praline selection. Naturally, nut fans will also find classic almond and hazelnut items in the Gold Discovery box, such as the Almond Marquise.
“Here we take roasted almonds and grind them up to create a traditional Belgian-style almond praline,” Muret says. “To add texture, we add almond pieces, so you have a soft and crisp center, which is set into a milk chocolate, almond-shaped mould.
The balancing act with flavors continues even when using fruits, such as in the Strawberry Lychee Eclipse chocolate. A white chocolate mousse forms the base for a strawberry and lychee combination.
“The lychee, which is slightly acidic, cuts the sweetness of the strawberry,” Godiva’s chef says. The lychee elevates and brightens the strawberry flavor while simultaneously providing a floral note.
Because the launch of the Gold Discovery Collection is across all markets, the company made a special effort to globalize the recipes, Muret says. Thus, for the North American market, all but two of the 10 items — Strawberry Lychee Eclipse and Pecan Praline Allure are manufactured in Belgium — are made in the United States.
“We conducted several studies on what’s the best environment to transport our pieces from Belgium to the United States. In some instances, it’s by refrigeration, freezing or at the optimal storage temperature of 55° F,” he explains. The executive chef chocolatier, however, politely declined to provide further details.
Development of the Gold Discovery Collection took about 18 months. Initial feedback has been positive, Muret says.
“We held a press event recently in New York City, which featured many young journalists,” he explains. “I was watching their reactions to the shapes (and) flavors, and they were very positive. That was also the case from patrons frequenting our retail shop in Rockefeller Center.”
Thus, expect to see delineations of the Gold Discovery Collection in seasonal items as well as tablets.
“I recently made a presentation to our global senior innovation officer, which included a fusion of wholesome American bark with a Belgian tradition, gianduja, and salted almonds,” he says.
So where does Muret get his ideas from?
“I need to be constantly on trend, in fact, two years ahead of the trend,” he asserts. “I’m always studying, reading, checking out articles, books, magazines. I also look outside the industry such as the Star Chefs International Chefs Congress, which is where I see what the latest culinary trends are.
"I also watch fashion shows to see color pairing, lines, what the designers are doing, and then see’s what’s applicable to my craft.”
Admitting that the Gold Discovery revamp had Millennials very much in mind, Muret see this consumer demographic as being every mindful of sustainability and of wanting to be involved with the brand.
“This generation has been extremely exposed to very creative experiences,” he says.
Godiva, with its Gold Discovery Collection, reflects that.