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Raquel González, the only qualified choclate taster in Spain. Dani de Pablos
'Chocolate is often the most forgotten food in restaurants'
Food and drink

'Chocolate is often the most forgotten food in restaurants'

After obtaining a degree in Fine Art, the only qualified chocolate taster in Spain has launched her own brand using cocoa beans from sustainable plantations

Rosa Palo

Vizcaya

Friday, 12 January 2024, 13:38

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Although she says it is not as good as it seems, Raquel González has the best job in the world: she is a qualified chocolate taster, the only one in Spain. After obtaining a degree in Fine Art and travelling tirelessly, she launched Kaitxo in 2017 in Balmaseda (Vizcaya), a 'bean to bar' where she makes speciality coffees and artisan chocolates, some of them quite famous. Namely her white chocolate with caramelised pistachio, which won the gold medal at the International Chocolate Awards.

For González, her work neither makes her feel sick nor gain weight: "If we eat 100 grammes of milk chocolate with 40% sugar a day, obviously there is a problem, but if it is a good dark chocolate 70% cocoa or more and we eat the recommended daily amount, 30 grammes, there is no problem."

What is the correct way to eat chocolate?

Well, you could. There are some interesting chocolates with olives that make me think of a vermouth. It's something we've been meaning to do.

Did you want to be a taster from young?

Yes, since I was a little girl. I once tasted some Valrhona chocolate and I thought it was so totally different. Also, it had information on the box like its origin, like 'grand cru', things like that, and I was like wow, what is this?! I realised that there was a lot more behind chocolate than just the chocolate bar itself.

How did you get here?

Thirteen years ago I decided I wanted to do something to do with chocolate-making. So I started to take courses and practise.

Do the Spanish know their chocolate?

Compared to what the Spanish know about wine, no! The history is sometimes known, because cocoa entered Europe through Spain, but at the product level, little is common knowledge, perhaps because in Spain we don't have cocoa farms like we have vineyards.

Kaitxo is a 'bean to bar'. What is this?

It is a methodology where we can control the whole process, from the cocoa beans to the chocolate bar.

Do you visit the plantations to see if they work ethically and sustainably?

Whenever we can, and we try to create a personal relationship with the people at the plantation.

Will this increase the price?

Most of us who make 'bean to bar' chocolate, true artisan chocolate, buy cocoa beans that are a higher price [compared to big companies] because this cocoa is better quality than the industrial cocoa. The industry has its place, of course, but for those who care about ethics and traceability and really want to know what they are eating, this is the best option.

Do you work with high-end restaurants?

–Yes. But there is still a lot to do: more often than not, chocolate is the most forgotten food in restaurants. It is always fun working for restaurants, but they also need to have a better understanding of this product because they give us all sorts of information about everything else, but they can't tell us what kind of cocoa they are using.

What should we look out for to know if a chocolate is good?

See what the primary ingredient is and how many others it has: if we are talking about a dark chocolate, it should not have more than three or four in total. Then, read all the information: in the context of wine, we see the variety of grape, the region it comes from. The same applies to chocolate. The price is also an indicator: if a bar costs two euros or less, we know it is not good quality; we would also think the same with wine.

What is the correct way to eat chocolate?

Like tasting other food: with our five senses. Focus on the colours and textures, and what we smell before putting it in our mouth. The golden rule is not to chew. To fully enjoy it you have to let it melt, because the butter melts at our internal body temperature, and all the flavour is in the butter.

And is it an aphrodisiac?

It has something to do with the chemical substances in chocolate: it has theobromine and phenylethylamine, which makes us feel good because they stimulate dopamine production. So, the answer is up to you [she laughs].

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