You don’t get to be called “Mr. Chocolate” for nothing. No, Jacques Torres comes by his moniker honestly. The first artisan chocolatier to start from the very cocoa beans, Torres specializes in fresh, hand-crafted chocolates packed with premium ingredients. The formula is so successful, he now owns two chocolate factories and several boutiques throughout New York City, as well as an online store. He has also hosted a Food Network show, published three cookbooks, and married a fellow chocolatier (Hasty Torres, owner of Madame Chocolat in Beverly Hills). We could think of no better man to ask for advice about romance via chocolate on Valentine’s Day…
MADE MAN: What’s the biggest mistake guys make with Valentine’s Day confections?
JACQUES TORRES: Waiting too long to get them. I can always tell a man who is shopping for Valentine’s Day chocolates. How? He comes into my shop at 6 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, in a rush because he’s double-parked. And he has no idea what he’s looking for. He just knows how much money he wants to part with. Que romantique!
“Going in even a day before Valentine’s Day means a bigger selection and better customer service. You avoid the chaos and lines. Shopping for chocolate should be relaxing, not a last-minute chore.”
MM: Why are we so clueless?
JT: Men aren’t entirely to blame. Chocolatiers generally target women in their early thirties. This strikes me as strange. Chocolate bars are the original energy bar—they were part of standard rations during both World Wars—and at my shop in Brooklyn we get many up-and-coming boxers buying bark, a confection made of dark chocolate and nuts.
MM: So when should we shop?
JT: Going in even a day before Valentine’s Day means a bigger selection and better customer service. You avoid the chaos and long lines. Shopping for chocolate should be relaxing, not a last-minute chore.
MM: What should we look for?
JT: For the gentleman on the go, it’s all about quality ingredients. First, more cacao means less sugar means higher-quality chocolate. Second, the best cacao in the world comes from Venezuela, Madagascar and Trinidad. Third, vanillin and other flavorings are there to mask the taste of low-quality chocolate. If you only know three things about chocolate, those are the three you need to know.
MM: How can a guy pair his choice of chocolate with his woman?
JT: I really can’t say whether a fiery personality would love spicier chocolate, but that would be great! That would make it very easy, huh? I do know that ladies in general tend to love chocolate with fruit, and confections that are not super bitter.
Jacques Choice 25 piece ($36) is a guaranteed woman pleaser.
MM: What about dark versus white chocolate?
JT: Chocolate acts on the same center of the brain as love, and it makes some people very, very happy. Dark chocolate has more cacao, which is not only healthier, but also acts as more of a mood elevator. Dark chocolate says powerful, flavorful, passionate. White chocolate says sweet, creamy.
MM: How much should we spend?
JT: In the minds of ladies, the more you spend the better you look. You can get away with spending twenty dollars on a box of chocolates, but you’re better off spending a few extra dollars and getting her something really nice. Favor quality over quantity. Smaller boxes of quality chocolate are better than bigger boxes of poor chocolate. And trust me, she knows the difference.
MM: What kind of chocolate really sets the mood?
JT: Anything spreadable and lickable!
Buy direct from the man himself at mrchocolate.com.