Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Aditi Malhotra was born into the food business. She only recently found her industry sweet spot, though—with chocolate factory and French-style café Tache Artisan Chocolate.
Malhotra’s grandfather came to New York to set up an Indian food stand at the 1964 World’s Fair and stayed, founding two Indian restaurants on Park Avenue. At her Lower East Side establishment, Malhotra blends the spices of her familial Indian upbringing with the zest from her restaurant upbringing at Japanese landmark Morimoto, as well as with the decadence of her apprenticeship in Paris with chocolatier Christian Vautier. The result? Think ginger and sumac encased in a white chocolate lining or rich, dark chocolate with a crunch of wasabi pea at the center. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we sat across from Malhotra at a pink Tache cafe table for a few lessons in making, gifting, and of course, eating chocolate.
First, tell us a little about Tache.
Tache means smudge in French, because you’ll always see me with a smudge on my chef coat. I opened up this shop as Christian Vautier Le Concept [in 2011], but after a couple of months my identity started getting a little lost in the story. Since Christian lives in Paris, it was hard to coordinate. So almost overnight I changed the name. We renovated the whole shop in a week, and I debuted catering the New York City Ballet Fall Gala honoring Valentino.
What is Tache best known for?
The Masala Chai truffle—they’re a little addicting. You know, I wasn’t a very big sweets person, but ever since I opened the shop I find myself craving all sorts of chocolate.
Are you coming out with anything special for Valentine’s Day?
We’re actually in the process of creating rose truffles as we speak. I love anything fragrant. We also recently got these beautiful holiday boxes. I’m a big girly girl, so any time I get to put my own personal touch on something I do it. Especially for Valentine’s Day, I recommend our [box of] signature truffles. I put love into everything I make, so I would like everyone to try a little bit of who we are.
How do you come up with new chocolates?
I dream about chocolate. I always sleep with my phone right next to my face, so any time I have an idea I just jot it down—like the sake chocolates I haven’t executed yet. I derive my flavors and colors from any desserts or dishes, even from a Thai restaurant or sushi. It’s a lot of fun.
What is the key to great chocolate? Or is it just always great?
You can’t rush the process. Chocolate is very temperature and time sensitive, so I will never start making a batch of chocolate if I can’t devote all my time and effort to executing it the way it deserves to be executed.
What is the best way to serve chocolate?
I personally think you can eat chocolate at any time of the day. A lot of the chocolate that I make is dark, which goes well with a cup of tea, coffee, milk, a glass of champagne…. And the best way to eat chocolate in my opinion would be to share it, either with your loved one or with your family. There’s nothing better than opening up a big box of chocolates and letting everyone try each flavor.
You also offer chocolate-making classes. How did the idea for those come about?
I came up with the idea, because I didn’t know what to give my father for Father’s Day, so I decided to gift a chocolate-making class. Then I said, ‘Why not do this for other fathers?’ And that became, ‘Why don’t I have my kid’s birthday party here or a bachelorette party?’ We sort of ran away with it, and now it’s a whole business within itself. For our Valentine’s Day classes we’ll be doing kiss-themed molds and also heart truffles and bonbons. All the chocolate treats you make in the class you get to take home.
You’re a self-professed Rebecca Minkoff fan. Which of your chocolates do you think best suits the flavor of our brand?
Definitely our champagne truffles and a decadently dark chocolate truffle, made of 75% dark chocolate ganache and coated in 100% cacao.
Tache is located at 254 Broome Street, between Orchard and Ludlow. Truffles are $1.95 to $3 each. 1.5-hour classes are available daily and cost upwards of $70 a person.