Tomomi Kaneko of Sweets ESCALIER (Pic taken by Victoria Cooksey at the NW Chocolate Festival)
Tomomi Kaneko of Sweets ESCALIER is a great example of someone able to live in multiple chocolate worlds by creating both pastry and his own bean-to-bar chocolate in Niigata, Japan. Each year at the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle I make sure to stop by his booth, which always has such a pleasant energy about it, to pick up bars for both myself and to give as gifts. Tomomi also draws the pictures for the wrappers and each bar comes with the option of various wrappers so the purchaser may pick the one that speaks to them best.
Enjoy this mini-interview!
Victoria Cooksey: When did you start making your own bean-to-bar chocolate and what was your inspiration to start making chocolate? How long have you been making chocolate?
Tomomi Kaneko: Bean to bar started 4 years ago. Until then I made chocolate confectionary with commercial chocolate. At first I tried to make chocolate as a pastry chef. Now I am interested in the possibility of making from cacao beans. The chocolate confectionary itself has been made for 30years.
VC: How is the art of creating chocolate similar to the art of creating pastry? How is it different from making pastries?
TK: Of course I think they are similar. There is an unexpected change though it is a simple material. Beyond my own experience. Bean to bar has many interactions and discoveries with ingredients. So bean to bar chocolate is fun!
Sweets ESCALIER (Pic provided by Tomomi Kaneko)
VC: Do you draw the designs on your bar wrappers? What is the inspiration behind your drawings?
TK: I drew the bar wrappers myself. I have never been to the cacao region. I drew my thoughts on the wildlife that seemed to be there. I wanted to make a chocolate bar and the wrappers myself.
Sweets ESCALIER Chocolate Bars (Pic taken by Victoria Cooksey at the NW Chocolate Festival)
VC: On your Instagram account, you post pictures of other chocolate makers bars. Why is it important to try chocolate by other makers?
TK: I knew only commercial chocolate until then. I need to eat bean to bar to understand bean to bar. However, there is no bean to bar maker in Niigata. I had a hard time trying it. That’s why I started to participate in the NW chocolate festival where many manufacturers gather.
VC: Since you began making chocolate all the way to today, how has bean-to-bar chocolate changed in Japan?
TK: I think the changes in the environment surrounding the bean to bar in the world are amazing. If I don’t always keep improving, I will be left behind. I think top runners in Japan are evolving one after another.
VC: How would you like customers to view or experience your chocolate?
TK: In the world of cacao, we talk about terroir. The terroir in the cacao region is important. However, I feel that the chocolate maker itself has a terroir.
Niigata is located on the north side of Japan and has high humidity and snow.
And Sweets ESCALIER is a pastry, not a chocolate shop. Baked sweets and prepared mousse. Environment where humidity is high and room temperature is not stable. But that is our terroir. Chocolate that can only be produced in our terroir.
I want you to experience chocolate from one environment in the world.
Look for Sweets ESCALIER’s booth at the next NW Chocolate Festival November 2019 in Seattle to pick up some of their yummy bars! (And be sure to say “Hi” to me. I will be at the festival also).
Sweets ESCALIER /Tomomi Kaneko: