‘Flavour Wizard:’ Japanese Chocolatier Conquers Belgium

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By Calvin S. Nelson

When Yasushi Sasaki moved from Japan to Belgium on the age of 19, he spoke not a phrase of French and had no clue what he would do along with his life.

Final month, on the age of 52, he was named Brussels’ chocolatier of the 12 months by the celebrated Gault&Millau meals information — no small triumph in a rustic that considers itself the homeland of chocolate.

“Every time I am going residence to Japan and point out Belgium, individuals say to me ‘Ahhh…. chocolate!” Sasaki informed AFP.

Dubbed a “flavour wizard” by the meals information, Sasaki conducts his experiments in a little bit workshop behind his retailer, within the Brussels commune of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.

“Chocolate? From the second I selected the occupation it turned my entire life,” he mentioned. “It is a passion, a job, a pleasure.”

“I knew nothing, I began from scratch. However I believe I made the correct selection.”

Initially from Nara, close to the town of Osaka, Sasaki attracts inspiration from his homeland — however with a light-weight contact. Not all Japanese flavours sit properly with a chocolate ganache or praline.

“Inexperienced tea may be very robust and marries very properly. So does yuzu,” the citrus fruit, he defined as he doled out tricks to his workforce of younger Japanese employees.

“Kaki and mandarin — nope.”

Sasaki selects his suppliers with care. The inexperienced tea for example comes from Kyoto, the place he orders immediately from a cousin who works within the sector.

With cocoa costs hovering, he’s additionally cautious to manage prices.

“We’re artisans however we’re additionally businesspeople,” he mentioned. “To maintain working as artisans, we now have to promote what we make.”

Sasaki could have discovered the commerce in Brussels however he doesn’t contemplate himself inheritor to a Belgian custom.

“I’ve my very own manner, my very own style,” he mentioned. “I do know my power is my very own manner, not copying different individuals.”

Right this moment, Sasaki exports his creations again to his residence nation, the place gross sales peak round Valentine’s day, the chocolate second of the 12 months in Japan.

As Easter attracts close to, he’s readying for one more large spotlight of the chocolate calendar.

A lot as he’s delighted to be honoured by Gault&Millau, Sasaki would have one phrase of recommendation for the guidebook — to tip off its laureates earlier than going public, in order that they have time to organize.

“It is a huge effect hastily,” mentioned Sasaki, whose turnover instantly jumped by 20 to 30 %.

For now, although, Sasaki has no plans to broaden.

“I have been making chocolate for years. I am simply going to maintain making good issues, doing my factor,” he mentioned.

Easter is a significant spotlight within the chocolate calendar
Sasaki draws inspiration from his homeland -- but with a light touch
Sasaki attracts inspiration from his homeland — however with a light-weight contact
Yasushi Sasaki exports to his native Japan, where sales peak around Valentine's day
Yasushi Sasaki exports to his native Japan, the place gross sales peak round Valentine’s day

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