Choc news: Sweden in public display of confection

Choc news: Sweden in public display of confection
Cocoa fan Robert La Bua spills the beans on Chokladfabriken's Martin Isaksson, Sweden's master chocolatier.

Chocolate as a career path? Don’t wake up; the dream can be a reality, and Martin Isaksson is living proof.

Martin speaks with the satisfaction of a person completely fulfilled in his work. He began his career in the pastry department at Nordiska Kompaniet, where he met his future wife, Ellinor; it was love at first sight of a cocoa bean.

The two teamed up personally and professionally and ventured into the big, scary world of small businessdom—not in the land of pastry, but in the world of chocolate.

Many tons of ganache later, the Isaakson phenomenon is redefining the perception of chocolate in Sweden.

Chokladfabriken’s first location was in Södermalm, in leased premises that the Isakssons were eventually obliged to give up as a result of the sort of travails familiar to many a Stockholm resident.

Determined not to be forced out of their next location, Martin and Ellinor purchased a handy corner retail space on Renstiernas gata and set up both shop and production in this location right by the Tjärhovsplan stop of the Number 2 bus.

Sweden’s sophisticated palate as applied to other mouth-entering items, like beer and herring, are being stimulated at a whole new level by Chokladfabriken’s continual efforts to introduce previously unimagined chocosensations to the public. If this is a systematic reeducation project, please sign me up.

And the products themselves? Now we’re talking. From worldwide favourites like hazelnut gijanduja and vanilla marzipan to specifically Swedish pleasures such as licorice, cloudberry, and lingonberry chocolates, Chokladfabriken’s line of bonbons is alone enough to bring in the customers—which it does with unsurprising ease.

People start streaming in as soon as the doors open and the constant flow of the young and hip, mothers with children, and connoisseurs of the finer things in life is ample proof that Chokladfabriken’s business model—offer excellent products and they will come—has been an unqualified success.

Martin, remember, is a satisfied man; he is not planning to make Chokladfabriken the Starbucks of chocolate shops. On the contrary, he seems almost reticent to expand his business for fear of diluting the personalized service that is another trademark of the company.

Many customers are regulars and like the small-town friendliness prevalent among the sales staff and even other customers in the store. The flagship store has a café area complete with chillout pyramid and books to peruse while you linger over a white hot chocolate (as opposed to a white-hot chocolate).

Not forgetting its pastry beginnings, Chokladfabriken also offers a delectable range of desserts and cakes if the desire to pursue a deeper satisfaction in the privacy of your own home becomes too strong to ignore—though, of course, public displays of confection are certainly not frowned upon in this open-minded emporium of theobroma cacao, the Latin name for the cocoa plant, which literally means ‘food of the gods’.

Wedding cakes are also a specialty of Chokladfabriken and are wildly popular as symbols of a good start to a long relationship—with chocolate as well as new spouses.

While other sweet shops in Stockholm shy away from wedding cakes, considering them too labour-intensive and time-consuming to make, Chokladfabriken is a happy purveyor of beautifully decorated cakes not only for weddings but for other special occasions.

In the meantime, the bonbons will do just fine.

Chocolate tasting

Of course, any day that is a Chokladfabriken day is a special occasion in itself. The most special of these may very well be the days of Chokladfabriken’s chokladprovning events, which take place several nights each month.

Learn all about the nuances of fine chocolate in the company of likeminded connoisseurs such as yourself.

The tasting events are presented in Swedish, but English presentations can be arranged for private bookings of five or more participants.

Can you think of anything more fun than you and your friends enjoying a private chocolate party? I can’t, but I don’t try very hard.

Make reservations early; these popular nights are often sold out in advance.

Tel: 08 640 0568

Chokladfabriken’s locations in Stockholm:

Renstiernas gata 12

Regeringsgatan 58

Grevgatan 37

If you live far from the capital, don’t be shy about asking for the chocolate to come to you by way of postal delivery.