Interview to Cioccolati Italiani: the surplus is the format!

Cioccolati Italiani is the best place where you can go if you want to taste real good chocolate! There is a kind of chocolate for each of you, from icecream to bars, brioches, cakes, you just have to think about something and order it: the Heaven!

The first shop was created in Naples on December 2008 and the idea of a place where people could taste precious and unusual chocolate delights hit it big, so they dedided to expand soon in Milan on February 2009. Here customers answered successfully to the new format that was introduced, something original even in such a big city.

Speaking with Vincenzo Ferrieri (his father opened the first shop in Naples) that’s what I discovered:

– How did you develope and spread this new format?

The most difficult thing was to standardize processes in order to materialize what we had in our mind and to create a particular new format, different from the competition, where the act of eating chocolate is an involving experience. The difficulties consisted in finding the right production lines certificates, in the suppliers’ choise, in meeting exactly the unsatisfied needs of consumers… Suppliers are very jealous of their product because they want to be sure that it is used in the right way, promoting its quality and underlining the fair origin.

when we opened in Milan we didn’ t focus on advertising, we simply paid two consulting agencies and a press agency for the first year, which “made the name of Cioccolati Italiani go round”. A big opportunity was the arrangement of the collaboration with the Costa Group at the Furniture Fair.  The rsult was that we reached the breakeven point in 8 months, the average is at least one year and half. Despite the consistent initial investment it revealed a great success, considering that the shop is not located on the main street but you have to go intentionally. It was a bet also because in Naples the other confectionery is in a shopping centre, with a different target of clients, different mentality and of course a different format too.

– How did you choose the suppliers?

The secret was starting from the product itself and arriving to the product as it is conceived in the customer’s mind! What stays in the middle is worth of attention anyway. What I’m trying to say is that we wanted to give visibility to small craftsmen, who works in small ateliers and make small delights on their own; the idea was to join them under the same roof to strenghten their position. The first trouble was to match many “First Ladies”, with independent concepts and own skills. We convinced them because we decided to underline quality and to emphasize their name: we don’ t produce chocolate, we select it!                                                        In France and Belgium chocolate is produced more or less in the same way, in Italy there is a different tradition in each place: Turin, Perugia, Piemonte, Modena… and for this reason we select the best proposals, Silvio Bessone, Fabrizio Galla, Francesco Sella… 

– What exactly do you make here?

Pastries are made here, icecream and everything what is connected with the transformation of the craftsmen chocolate. We use the bars of Bessone and Sella to produce delights and Roberto Lobrano takes care of  the icecrem processing. An interesting thing that we introduce in the organization is to entrust a specific unit to an expert of the field: Roberto Lobrano for icecream, Besssone, Galla, Deriso for chocolate, Cioccolati Italiani for coffee…

  – What about your staff?

Here in Milan there are 18 people, but it is difficult to find skilled people. Two weeks are necessary as vocational education, but in the field of icecream it is one months. Although the turnover of shopassistants is quite high we focused on the support of a kind atmosphere, which can be perceived by our customers too. The strengh point is the relationship with the client because here chocolate is not only food, it is an experience.

– Any future improvements?

Probably we will focus on visual attraction of design. The caveau where we stock bars is fascinating but we need something like a small exhibition of our products in order to attract clients and to make them trying something new or buying something that they wouldn’t have seen behind the counter. With the same purpose we will also add small pieces of chocolate to taste.

Here there are other fotos of the location:

The caveau:






The shop:







Vincenzo Ferrieri:












And that’s to convince you that at Cioccolati Italiani chocolate is an experience: try it! 



We should look beyond the label: the Academy of Chocolate

What is the Academy of Chocolate?

The Academy of Chocolate was launched in the UK in London on 15 June 2005 and its aims are to: – Encourage chocolate lovers to ‘look beyond the label’ to differentiate between chocolate confectionery and ‘real’ chocolate;

– to improve the standard and knowledge of chocolate in the UK by promoting an understanding of the ingredients of chocolate, through the chain, from bean to bar;

– to encourage the transparent sourcing of cocoa beans from the plantations, and their production in socially fair and environmentally undamaging conditions;

Last year the first Academy of Chocolate Awards were held awarding prizes to a number of leading chocolate makers including Amedei, Valrhona, Rococo, l’Artisan du La Maison du Chocolat, William Curley, Paul Young and Chococo. The Academy members are available for tastings and wine-pairings for the public, educational programmes in schools, and discussions, forums, visits, seminars and demonstrations for chocolatiers, trade buyers, delicatessen owners, chefs and the media. It will also act as a resource to provide advice and information on everything to do with fine chocolate for the public, the media, chocolate producers, cocoa growers, and the hospitality industry.  

The Academy of Chocolate awards is now an important event in the chocolate calendar with entries sent in from all over the World. 

The Academy was delighted to receive over 300 entries for the 2008 Awards and the judging in January of this year took over 3 days with 30 judges including some of the countries leading food journalists and Michelin starred chefs tasting and scoring the entries. Chocolatiers also join the judging panel but are not permitted to judge any of the categories that they enter. 


The 14 categories in the Academy of Chocolate Awards include ‘best chocolate makers bar’, ‘best ganache filled chocolate’, ‘best flavoured bar’ categories, ‘best truflle’, ‘best organic’ categories and ‘best drinking chocolate’. We are delighted that the best ‘chocolatier’ will, this year, be supported by Quinta do Noval Port. In keeping with the aims of the Academy, criteria for the awards are that products contain natural ingredients with no artificial flavourings and colourings. For the first time this year the Academy have also introduced a best packaging award.  

The Academy of Chocolate was created in 2005 by 5 of Britain’s leading chocolate professionals, united in the belief that chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures. Membership has since grown but the aim remains the same, to campaign for better chocolate and promote a greater awareness between fine chocolate and mass-produced chocolate confectionery.The main aim:

Currently, only about 10% of fine cocoa beans reach our chocolate. The rest are destined for ‘industrial’ chocolate or chocolate confectionery.

The central point in the Academy is the belief that few producers really understand the difference between fine chocolate and confectionery. Nor do they realise that chocolate is made from a fruit, the cocoa bean, with flavours that can be just as subtle if they are not masked in sugar and fat. As a result it is difficult for consumers to find a selection of fine chocolate and make up their own minds. 

The members strongly believe that giving people the change to savour and to learn about fine chocolate will give them a greater appreciation and therefore an anticipation for more ‘proper’ chocolate. By the way, this doesn’t necessarily mean more 75% plus cocoa solids. Enjoying fine chocolate is not about suffering for the sake of very high cocoa solids. All the producers represented at the Academy produce their own milk chocolate bars. Top quality comes from a myriad of factors including the variety of the beans, where they are grown, the fermentation process, the drying and the manufacturers recipe and methods. 

Once you have discovered what pleasure, complexity, richness and wide sensations there is in fine chocolate, you never look at chocolate the same way, you never buy chocolate the same way. But not many people have had the opportunity to be introduced to fine chocolate and be blessed by the chocolate ‘light’. The Academy wants to bring this opportunity to as many people as possible, with no vested business nor commercial interest. 

 Demand for fine chocolate will act as an incentive to select better quality cocoa beans and therefore have an impact on the cocoa growing countries. They in turn will be able to take more care with their production, fermentation and drying methods thus protecting the workers and the environment. This will lead to a better price for the cocoa beans. Unless producers begin to pay cocoa farmers a decent price, like many other areas of agriculture, the young people will leave the plantations and move into cities where there is more lucrative employment. Cocoa plantations will give way to more lucrative forms of agriculture and the sources of the finer beans will be lost. Not only will this have a poor effect on the quality of cocoa and thus our chocolate but also will have a further destructive effect on the world’s environment. 


Published in: on giugno 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm  Comments (20)  

High culture vs low culture: it’ s up to you

Chocolate and art: an unusual portrait

The chocolate art of Tokyo chocolatier Madame Setsuko Co. regularly appears at international chocolate salons in Tokyo, Paris, and New York. At many salons they have presented chocolate portraits of the Mona Lisa. Left photo shows president Setsuko Hara presenting one in bas relief for the 2006 Tokyo salon.                Below is a chocolate painting for the Tokyo salon.               Nothing better than this could be considered an example of how the skills and abilities of a chocolatier can be used in the artistic field: chocolate is art and therefore it is a piece of high culture. 

But what about considering a medium that can reach everybody?   

I’m speaking about television, the emblem of all mass-media! 

TCB CAFE Publishing & Media and the TasteTV, bring to chocolate lovers and new media television viewers CHOCOLATE TELEVISION, a new food, cooking and lifestyle program that stars everyone’s favorite culinary delight: Chocolate, of course!  Chocolate bars, chocolate makers, chocolate dishes, chocolate reviews, chocolate recipes, chocolate products, chocolate tastings, chocolate cookbooks, chocolatiers, even chocolate commercials, are all included on Chocolate Television. Can you stand the sweet (or bittersweet, if that’s more to your liking)? Exactly what I’m speaking about on this blog. 

On this interactive, reality television program, chefs, chocolatiers and chocolate lovers demonstrate the best recipes, taste the finest chocolates, and show how cocoa can be a delicious part of your life. In addition, selected viewers and independent producers can also share their own chocolate videos with the audience, demonstrating that there’s more than one way to enjoy the dripping, melting, solid or crunchy pleasures of “le chocolat.”  

Here there is an example of what you can see on Chocolate Television: 

What do you prefer? High culture or low culture? 

Paints can be the example of high culture because only people, who are interested in art go to exhibitions, tv instead, is a mass-medium, it reaches each house, news spread quickly and it is a window on our homes: I’ ve labeled it “low culture”  simply because it is accessible to all, not because it is less value, its contents(not all but many) can be considered “high” anyway. Probably the best solution would be to join the high and the low and to mix them up and to create a unique, single culture…

Published in: on giugno 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm  Comments (17)  

What a world without Nutella!

The biggest Ferrero success, not only for Italian families!

Nutella  is the brand name of a hazelnut-based sweet spread registered by the Italian company Ferrero at the end of 1963. The recipe was developed from an earlier Ferrero spread released in 1949. Nutella is sold in over 75 countries.

Gianduja is a type of chocolate containing approximately 50% almond and hazelnut paste. It was developed in Piedmont,  after taxes on cocoa beans hindered the diffusion of conventional chocolate.

Pietro Ferrero, who owned a patisserie in Alba, in the Langhe district of Piedmont, an area known for the production of hazelnuts, sold an initial batch of 300 kilograms of “Pasta Gianduja” in 1946. This was originally a solid block, but in 1949, Pietro started to sell a creamy version in 1951 as “Supercrema“.

In 1963, Pietro’s son Michele revamped Supercrema with the intention of marketing it across Europe. Its composition was modified and it was renamed “Nutella.” The first jar of Nutella left the Ferrero factory in Alba on 20 April 1964. The product was an instant success and remains widely popular. The estimated Italian production of Nutella averages 179,000 tons per year.

Composition: Nutella is a modified form of gianduja. The exact recipe is a secret closely guarded by Ferrero. According to the product label, the main ingredients of Nutella are sugar and vegetable oils, followed by hazelnut, cocoa solids and skimmed milk, which together comprise at most 28% of the ingredients. The recipe for Nutella varies in different countries: for example, the Italian formulation uses less sugar than the product sold in France. Nutella is marketed as “hazelnut cream” in many countries. Under Italian law, it cannot be labeled as a chocolate cream, as it does not meet minimum cocoa solids concentration criteria.

Nutella is marketed in a variety of packages: its typical containers have always been made of glass, though plastic containers are more common in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. Some of the most popular glass containers are quite small, the size of a standard water glass; they can be used as normal table glasses once the product has been consumed. They have a simple white lid on the top that is disposed of when the product is finished.

Just look at that photo and….Choose YOUR size!

What makes Nutella special is

– its traditional recipe

– it is timeless

– it is suitable for everybody…except those who are alergic to hazelnuts 😉

– you can eat it at breakfast or better whenever you want!

…and finally, but I could go on until tomorrow, you can put it whereever you want!  This is just a deliciuos example:

Summarizing: Big company, Huge Success, International Product, Many People, Many Sizes, Many Uses…

What a world without Nutella!

Published in: on maggio 30, 2010 at 10:39 am  Comments (17)  

Innovation for a small group: Chocolight!

Interview to Chiara Boscolo: part 3

– I see “Chocolight” overthere, tempting and healthy at the same time is it possible?

Yes, the research of Venchi focused exactly on that aspect: creating a chocolate with the perfect taste of the normal chocolate but with less calories and sugar in order to be appreciateb by diabetics, caeliacs and silhouette fans. The product has to be healthy but not frustrating, that doesn’ t taste of renounciation but that indulgingly gratifies and satisfies the palate.

– How is this light chocolate created?

When choosing No Added Sugar Chocolate it is essencial not only to check ingredients but above all to evaluate and compare the taste. A shelf covered with brands of No Added Sugar products to offer to the customer is not what counts; what matters is customer satisfaction, because it is huge added value to be able to offer people with dietary restriction a product that not only is good for their health, but that also tastes great. In accordance with this princuple, Venchi’ s goal is to work on the countless quality of chocolate, thus increasing its healthiness but not only: the objective on the research, trying to stand out among the many brands producing sugar free chocolate to the disadvantage of flavour, has been to create a healthy but not frustrating product, which gratifies the palate.  After several years of study Choccolight started to be distributed only in specialist shops and in the pharmaceutical sector. This chocolate contains no addes sugar as it is sweeted with maltitol, a completely natural sustances extracted by processing the maltose contained in maize, which gives the palate a taste very similar to sugar but doesn’ t have any of its contraindications. Maltitol is slowly absorbed by the organism and drastically reduces the presence of glucose and allows people with diabetic problems to maintain a low glicemy index.  It is recommended by the American Dental Assocition as it combates the formation of caries.

– What does “light” mean in terms of calories?

All chocolight products are gluten free, thus suitable for caeliacs and are low calorie: 2.1 calories per gramm against 4.0 in sugar. Other favourable caracteristics are that thery are free of chemical and syntesis sweeteners such as Aspartame. Lastly these products are all dark chocolate and are rich in mineral salt such as potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and phosphor. They are ideal for sportspeople and contain less sodium than a bottle of Lete water.

And this is how the most sumptuosus food of all has become a source of health too!

Published in: on maggio 26, 2010 at 9:24 pm  Comments (15)  

Chocolate sales at Despar group

When I came back to Padua for Easter, I went to the supermarket and I thught that it could have been interesting to change my point of view: instead of focusing on only on production, why don’ t I analyse distribution too? So I asked the director of the Eurospar seat where my family is a regular client and where I was doing shopping that day, if he could supply me some information about the brands and kinds of products that they sell more. Unfortunatly each seat cannot release specific and technical datas, but he gave me the phone number of the Department, which controls the area of Triveneto and the city of Ferrara.

After one month Fabio Zurma, Sales Manager of the Despar group, seat of Mestrino(Padua) wrote me an e-mail containig some datas about the chocolate brands that they sell more in the area that they control (Triveneto+Ferrara).

This is what it came out, summerized in three graphics per :




What can we say?

First, that my predictions about the “Majors” were in part true, concerning Nestlè and Ferrero, and in part false because I’ ve never considered Loaker and Kraft Foods. That means I have too review the category! 🙂

Second, that my favourite chocolate brand Lindt owns less that the 10% of the market, which is a lot for a single company, but not enough to have the leadership and to compete with Ferrero. Moreover Lindor candies, my favourite candies, are supposed to be among the most sold in the market, but they strongly suffer for the competition of Poket-coffee, Mon cheri, Ferero Rocher, Raffaello…

Third, that an old company like Zaini, founded in 1913, still survives in the same market of huge multinationals like Nestlè, it means that they were able to develope a competitive value, difficult to copy and that they differenciated production during the time, conquering free niches and several targets.

Published in: on maggio 22, 2010 at 6:42 pm  Comments (28)