One Chocolate I've Really Fallen For: Tumbador

Saturday, June 13, 2009

On a cocoa plantation, a tumbador (from the Spanish word meaning "to fall") is the worker who picks the cacao pods. It's also the name of an exceptional chocolate company started by Michael Altman, a former computer consulting entrepreneur (and all-around nice guy) who sold his company and decided to take a plunge into the world of wholesale chocolate in 2005. The chocolates are crafted by Tumbador's Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Bonnet (formerly of New York's renowned restaurant Daniel), using only the finest ingredients. I bumped into Jean-Francois this week at Dessert Professional's Ten Best Pastry Chefs in America event at the Institute of Culinary Education, and he gave me an assortment of Tumbador chocolates.
(By the way, as you can probably tell from his name, JF is French, but he acts more like an American than any American I know.) Anyhow, the chocolates were like little, shiny jewels, decorated with flashes of luster dust, transfer sheet designs or textured patterns, all very tastefully done (unlike other chocolatiers who like to show off their chocolates by hitting them with every technique they can conjure up). The flavors are also tasteful, as well as innovative: Pear Black Tea, Coffee Cardamom, Dulce de Leche, Honey, Green Tea and Chestnut, are some examples. The line also features single-origin, organic and fair trade chocolate, exotic fruits, spices, fresh herbs and regional flavors such as Provencal Pastis, Canadian whiskey and Vermont maple syrup. Jean-Francois's culinary philosophy is "analyze, understand, enjoy," and it is reflected in his fine work. Tumbador creates chocolates to sell under their own brand name and are seen at luxury hotels and high-end boutiques all over the country. For more info, call 718-788-0200 or visit www.tumbadorchocolate.com.