Discover Benelux, Issue 25, January 2016

Page 12

Discover Benelux | Belgian Chocolate | Top Chocolatiers & Shops

A feast for the eyes and a sensation for the mouth TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: LENNEN DESCAMPS

When you say ‘Belgium’, people immediately think ‘chocolate’. Sweettoothed tourists from all over the world come to Belgium to taste and experience the very best cocoa products. One of its top chocolatiers is located in the exceptionally beautiful city of Ghent. Chocolatier Van Hoorebeke is a true family business and has been one of the best chocolatiers of the country. Luc and Christine started the business in 1982 and a few years ago their son Cédric opened another shop in the city. They are repeatedly voted one of the ten best chocolatiers in the country. Visitors come to the alluring shop to marvel at the stunning creations and, of course, to purchase the most delicious chocolates. Even the Belgian Royal Family has thanked them for their delicious sweets. The store in itself is already worth a visit. The shop window is always a real 12 | Issue 25 | January 2016

sight to behold but, when inside, customers can see a part of the production which takes place in the basement of the building. Van Hoorebeke produces 50 to 60 kilos of chocolates per day. Each piece is handmade and a true piece of art. Van Hoorebeke even provides personalised chocolates, for example with company logos.

Van Hoorebeke continues to evolve constantly; it stays on top of trends, they attend courses and take all kinds of allergies into account. The family is also present at major events such as the World Exhibitions in Shanghai (2010) and Milan (2015). “In Shanghai, we needed extra protection because of the large influx of people,” says Christine.

The cacao beans come from countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Vietnam, but the composition of the chocolate is processed in Belgium by Van Hoorebeke. Recently Van Hoorebeke started importing cacao beans from Vanuatu, a small group of islands in the east of Australia.These cacao beans are fabulous, but not many people know it yet.

For the true ‘chocaholics’ there is good news: chocolate is rich in antioxidants (stronger than in red wine), it contains good cholesterol, vitamins and minerals. Even though happiness cannot be bought, buying chocolate comes very close.

Christine: “The grinding of the cocoa beans is very important, a fine grind ensures that the chocolate does not crumble in your mouth, but of course we also want the very best cocoa beans provided.”