Tuscan chocolatiers stage a coup and get access to the best ingredients for the Valentine's Day staple. Gourmet chocolate lovers reap the rewards.
Almost two decades ago in 1991, brother and sister Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri, along with their mother, traveled from Italy to France. Their target was the Valrhona chocolate factory. The family had a thriving bakery supply business. They wanted to carry Valrhona chocolates and perhaps expand into making pralines and chocolate confections. Valrhona was at the time considered by many to be the best chocolate in the world.
Valrhona Insult Leads to a New Chocolate Competitor
In the book, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light, Mort Rosenblum recounts the story Allesio told him of how a representative derisively laughed about the Danish visitors who had come in before the Tessieris. The Valrhona man expressed how amusing he thought it was that the Denmark contingent thought the country was capable of appreciating fine French chocolate.
According to the book, the representative subsequently insulted the Tessieris when as Cecilia recalled, "They told us they did not think Italians were ready for their products, and they were not sure we could do them justice." She goes on to say, "Right then and there, it was war."
The Tessieri family started their own chocolate company, calling it Amedei after their grandmother. Not since Benito Mussolini declared war on France in 1940 has there been such a concerted effort by Italian nationals to defeat the French.
Amedei Gets Exclusive Rights to Chuao Cacao Beans
Cecilia stayed at the Amedei factory making chocolate, while Alessio traveled the world in search of the finest ingredients. At the time, the cacao beans for Valrhona chocolates came from a small town in Venezuela called Chuao.
Alessio began visiting Chuao. He sponsored their baseball team. He lobbied for better working conditions. He worried about the health of Chuao children, and he offered to pay more for their beans. After a few years of selling to both chocolate companies, Amedei got an exclusive deal. It is the only company that can call its chocolate Chuao.
Amedei Beats Valrhona at The Academy of Chocolate Awards
Since the first award competition in 2006 at the UK based Academy of Chocolate, Amedei has had a strong showing, gaining top honors every year. It has won the Golden Bean numerous times in Best Bean to Bar category, as well as other categories including:
Best Dark Chocolate Bar
Best Bean to Bar Chocolate Makers Bar
Best Milk Chocolate Bar
Best Flavored Milk Chocolate Bar
While Valrhona has won awards in the competition, it has not had the successes Amedei has had consistently. Amedei has beaten Valrhona in a number of important categories, and year after year wins a higher volume of awards for their chocolate.
Buying Amedei Chocolates
There are a variety of Amedei chocolates that can be purchased online. Amedei sells bar chocolate which can be enjoyed by itself but is usually used to make confections. The Amedei Porcelana bar is one of the most expensive chocolates in the world. It along with other Amedei chocolates are used by famous chefs including Pierre Herme, Thomas Keller, and Ferran Adria.
Alongside their pure chocolate offerings, Amedei sells what they call "pralines" but in America would be called truffles. Their praline collection includes Pralines, The Truffles, and their newest collection, Pralines by Meditation. These can be purchased online, as well as at exclusive retailers in the U.S.
Who makes the best chocolate in the world? The battle between Valrhona and Amedei is ongoing, but many chocolate fanciers think Amedei is winning the war. Amedei's award winning confections are a wonderful traditional Valentine's Day chocolate gift, but they also make a sweet offering for any other occasion.
Mort Rosenblum, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light pp. 159-163