Toronto chocolatier David Chow’s chocolates come in colours befitting a Dali canvas and designs evocative of Jackson Pollack’s work, but Chow himself nearly failed high school art class.
Rather, he loved math and science growing up, earning a degree in computer engineering only to graduate in the midst of a tech industry downturn. An avid home cook, culinary school seemed an appealing way to stay engaged between fruitless job interviews, and Chow soon took a gamble—leave computers behind, and apply his technical mind to the organic chemistry of chocolate making, which he gravitated towards, full time.
“When the concepts of pastry and baking are broken down, they are based on scientific principles,” says Chow of the relation between his realm of study and vocation. “For instance, one of the most basic techniques in chocolate work is called ‘tempering,’ where chocolate is successively heated and cooled to very specific temperatures in order to create stable form V beta crystals to encourage specific attributes like shine, snap, and shelf-stability.”
“It may seem trite but there is nothing better than being able to put a smile on someone’s face or make someone’s day that much better—and delicious.”
Chow delights in the technical elements of his work—“Cocoa butter is a six-phase polymorphic crystal!” he exclaims in one moment, before explaining that combining coconut oil with chocolate to lower its melting point (as in a peanut butter meltaway) is a “eutectic” process.
Chow’s methodological precision meets a dedication to quality ingredients to create the true allure of his products. His products not only provide the platonic sensory ideals of snap, crunch, chew, and melt, but come in gorgeous flavours. His Buckwheat Fennel Bar, a slab of blonde chocolate studded with Ontario buckwheat honey sponge toffee, caramelized buckwheat groats, fennel pollen, and Maldon sea salt, won the International Chocolate Awards in 2016. “It tastes like fennel butterscotch and has the crunch that I crave,” he says.
For all holidays, Chow creates funny and edible figurines (his sunny-side up Easter eggs are adorable). This Christmas, his focus is on trees—a candy cane striped one, a snow-topped one, trees with different tiers of fruits, nuts, matcha powder, and sesame, all filled with wrapped caramels and chocolate covered fruit and nuts. He currently makes them all in his prep kitchen within Stasis Preserves (where he conveniently picks up ingredients like Sheldon Dairy cream, Stirling Creamery butter, Prince Edward County lavender and herbs, and Rosewood Estates honey).
With no storefront for now, Chow sells his goods at gourmet stores like Pusateri’s. Working seven-day weeks to fill orders and wrapping products himself, Chow is constantly busy, but proud of the decision he made to pursue chocolate over 10 years ago. “Food is so evocative and brings people together,” he says. “It may seem trite but there is nothing better than being able to put a smile on someone’s face or make someone’s day that much better—and delicious.”
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