Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier
Bissinger's began over 350 years ago in 17th Century France, and was even enjoyed by King Louis XIV. They moved their headquarters to St. Louis, Missouri in 1927, and four years ago were joined by their Chief Chocolatier -- the friendly and talented Terry Wakefield (pictured). Wakefield was actually a nuclear engineer before he got into the chocolate business (I'm serious), but he now has 40 years of experience in the food industry. He even once ran a 6.5 acre chocolate manufacturing plant -- experience which provided him with an intimate and supremely technical knowledge about creating chocolates. He even knows how to make chocolate good for you!
"Chocolate is a great way to help people lose weight," says Wakefield. "Seriously! Dark chocolate has a high satiety factor if you don't eat it too fast."
He also knows more about the effects of dark chocolate's antioxidants than anyone I've ever heard speak on the topic: "You want antioxidants to eliminate free radicals, but you make free radicals when you eat. The break even point for dark chocolate is 50 or 60 percent."
Got that? If your dark chocolate is less than 50 percent cocoa, you aren't getting antioxidant benefits (but at least you're lessening the free radical damage -- a fine excuse to continue eating more chocolate).
All right, onto the good stuff. Pictures of the tasting (held at The Audrey Lounge in NY's W Tuscany Hotel) are below, and if you live in St. Louis or near Edina, Minnesota (a suburb of Minneapolis where, coincidentally, I happened to live for 14 years), you can visit an actual Bissinger's boutique or the Chocolate Experience Lounge in the Central West End. The rest of us will have to stick to ordering online, or finding the chocolates at retailers like Bloomingdale's.
If you haven't tried Bissinger's chocolates before, you're going to want to after you see this gallery!
Gallery: Bissinger's Chocolate Tasting