Behind the scenes at Sweet Lollapalooza, it’s a chocolate lovers haven. When picking out your bonbons, you can glimpse a small, enclosed space where the chocolate is enrobed in cacao. And, in the back, is the kitchen where all the chocolate is made – trays filled with confections of all shapes and colours, all ready to be enjoyed. In the middle of it all is chocolatier Brett Roy.
Roy has been serving up delectable chocolate treats at Sweet Lollapalooza for nearly 15 years now, but, before that, he spent nearly the same amount of time traveling the world as a chef. He’s worked at hotels and restaurants across the globe, from French Polynesia to Australia, Lizard Island to Toronto. It was his time in Toronto, where he ran 16 restaurants as a corporate chef, that led him to pursue the sweeter side of things.
“With my travels I had seen all these boutique chocolate stores popping up in Manhattan, and I had that in the back of my mind,” said Roy. When he and his wife decided to leave Toronto for a more affordable city, where they could have their second child and be closer to his wife’s family, he went to Quebec and France to train as a chocolatier. It was a huge change from his chef days. “I used to think that working in a kitchen, getting prepared for service, was a good stress. Since walking away from that world, I realize how stressful that was, managing groups of people. Now, the chocolate actually dictates the whole pace that I do every day. I can plan what needs to be produced but, depending on how the chocolate’s reacting, it’ll dictate the speed. It tells me when it’s going to be ready.”
Roy produces approximately 80 different types of bonbons at any given time, as well as 12 to 15 types of confections – and he’s always brainstorming new flavours and ideas. And, it’s not just a simple process of adding flavours to chocolate – it involves working with the different beans themselves. “We’re continuously trying the different cacaos that we work with because they’re complex and have different flavour profiles, from acidic to tannic, sweet fruity notes to spice notes, floral notes,” says Roy. It’s a bit of a process of trial and error, and he doesn’t offer any bonbon until he’s satisfied with everything about it, from the mouthfeel to the shape.
Sweet Lollapalooza specializes in enrobed chocolates – which Roy prefers, due to the high filling-to-coating ratio and the mouthfeel – and it’s incorporated a degree of luxury there. All the chocolate it sells is enrobed with Pure Nacional cacao, which Roy says is the most expensive chocolate there is. The beans for that particular type of cacao are grown in one spot in the Andes in Peru, near the Marion River. The cacao bean is pure white, and genetics lab testing done on the plant proved that it was the mother plant that all cacao came from. “We’re very fortunate to have a steady supply of it, it’s quite special,” says Roy.
“We specialize in having chocolate that’s accountable and traceable, we like to support the small producers,” says Roy. “The raw materials we’re using are the highest quality you can get. It’s a luxury offering, with the types of cacao that we use.”