Damian Allsop has a long-standing passion for working with chocolate. In his 20-year career as Head Pastry Chef in Michelin starred restaurants, he has worked with some of the best chefs in England, France and Catalonia including Gordon Ramsay, Giorgio Locatelli and Joan Roca. For Allsop, the turning point came in 2002 when he was introduced to the now legendary Chuao from Amedei and realized that the heavy saturated fats in cream (the binding agent traditionally used to make chocolate) mask its complex flavours. He promptly set about re-inventing his recipes by replacing cream with water. Working from his studio in Tunbridge Wells, all Allsop’s creations reflect a love of innovation. His acclaimed Water Ganaches deliver a fresh, light, pure tasting chocolate quite unlike any other. His ‘Flavour Changers’ are truffles that literally change flavour whilst you eat them by hitting your taste buds with different flavours at different times.
At the centre of his Fruit-LIO-chocs are whole fruits preserved using liofilisation (a heat free drying technique) to deliver extraordinarily intense acidic fruit flavours. Then there’s Clouds, foams made from fresh fruit purees encased in chocolate to deliver a uniquely light texture. When it comes to Allsop’s ingenious creations, tasting is believing. To taste Damian Allsop’s creations is to understand his reputation as an innovator. In his 20 year career as Head Pastry Chef in Michelin-starred restaurants, he has worked with some of the world’s greatest chefs including Gordon Ramsay in England and Joan Roca in Catalonia. Allsop’s Eureka moment came in 2002 when he met legendary Tuscan Chocolatiers Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri of Amedei and tasted their Chuao chocolate. He realized that the ingredients we add to chocolate alter its flavour, a simple revelation that led him to find a way to mix water with chocolate. Allsop’s Water Ganaches are now served in the top restaurants and boutique shops in the country. He works from his studio in Tunbridge Wells.
Q. What’s your idea of the perfect Christmas Day?
A. With friends and family. Andy (from Zafferanos) cooking all of us his ‘Scrambled Eggs with White Truffles’ for breakfast, then out for a walk. And back for a dinner that lasts all afternoon with games afterwards.
Q. What do you love about working with chocolate?
A. Being able to eat it every day!
Q. What, in your opinion, makes for great chocolate?
A. That it takes me on a journey.
Q. Tell us one fact about chocolate that you find fascinating.
A. The different crystal structures that are formed by the cacao butter.
Q. What is your greatest chocolate innovation?
A. The water ganache, which will be shown at the Chocolate festival in 2018.
Q. We read that you once ruptured your back and spent six months in a wheelchair. How did the experience change you?
A. I got a taste of being disabled but it was easy, as I knew I would walk again, a lot of people aren’t so lucky.
Q. Who inspires you?
A. Joan Roca.
Q. What was your favourite chocolate as a child?
A. Galaxy – it was my mum’s favourite and I nicked it from her!
Q. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A. Fuet our cat.
Q. Who would you most like to pick in a Secret Santa and what would you give them?
A. My partner Anna because I don’t give her enough things. I’d like to get her something that isn’t chocolate.
Q. What would you serve for pud at your ideal dinner party?
A. Amano Madagascan 70% chocolate mousse, apricot crisps and liquorice financiers.
Q. What exciting new creations are you currently developing?
A. The rep from Glenmorangie is coming down next week – I am working on using their whisky in a chocolate cocktail for the new Coutts Chocolate Experience. The Coutts cocktail is whisky, elderflower and grenadine. It’s been really interesting trying to find the balance, but I think we’ve got it!
Q. What’s your New Year’s Resolution for 2012?
A. Finish writing my first book.