I tasted the best caramel praline in the world. That’s not a personal verdict, that’s what was decided at the 2013 International Chocolate Awards in London (HOW did I not know such a thing exists?). That’s when the Belgian chocolatier Geert Decoster won gold with his caramel praline Salin.
Decoster’s chocolate shop Centho is located in Duisburg, a small town in Flemish Brabant, but the man exports his pralines around the world and even created a special line of chocolates for television chef Jamie Oliver. You’d never guess when entering Centho, though, because Decoster is a craftsman. All of his focus goes to his chocolates and while a few newspaper articles on the walls proof his importance in the chocolate world, the man is a typical down-to-earth Belgian.
He wasn’t even in London when his Salin praline won gold because it was such a busy time for the shop and he didn’t think he’d win anyway.
When I visited him, I caught him a bit at a bad time. He was just preparing his world-famous caramel and that required all of his attention. Craft first, publicity later.
When he had a moment, he told me how all the chocolate he uses is origin chocolate from various countries in the world. He doesn’t buy bags of standard chocolate, create with different kinds of chocolate to keep the price and quality fairly stable, but has someone find him the right farmers and cacao harvests around the world.
A beautiful wooden world map on the wall shows his customers where his chocolate comes from and little stacks of samples allow you to taste the difference between chocolate from Vietnam, Madagascar, Brazil, Cuba and other places.
Talking to him, I could notice his passion for his craft. That’s something I love so much: people who are visibly passionate about something and will pour a lot of effort into it.
Oh and that caramel praline I tasted? Simply divine.
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