cover image The Secrets of Chocolate: A Gourmand’s Trip Through a Top Chef’s Atelier

The Secrets of Chocolate: A Gourmand’s Trip Through a Top Chef’s Atelier

Franckie Alarcon, trans. from the French by Montana Kane. NBM, $19.99 (112p) ISBN 978-1-68112-278-6

Alarcon draws for his dessert in this frothy diary-style account of his year spent shadowing a renowned chocolatier. Alarcon is a chocoholic who rewards himself with bites of 70% dark chocolate to motivate his drawing work. After he met chef Jacques Genin, he fell for his chocolate-covered pastries and candies. In late 2013, Alarcon began regularly visiting Genin’s kitchen to observe, sketch, ask questions, and bother the staff. He learned about creating truffles, mendiants, tarts, rochers, ganache, praline, and more. Later, he interviewed another chocolatier who roasts and processes his own cocoa beans and travels with him on a trip to Peru to scout out a new cocoa plantation. Alarcon is a squeamish traveler who winces over the food he is offered by the indigenous Peruvian farmers, and throughout he comes across as rather starstruck and weak-willed. (Sexist and xenophobic humor, meanwhile, such as women always swarming the chef or caricatures of an Asian tea purveyor, don’t do him any favors.) Alarcon’s drawings are simple but effective, easily capturing lively gestures and technical details. There’s a puff piece feel to the proceedings, but Alcaron’s fellow sweet-tooths will appreciate the recipes and industry secrets. (June)