in partnership with
Quick show of hands: growing up, how many of us would have loved to commit our lives (and tastebuds) to chocolate? While our Willy Wonka-inspired dreams might have only been just that, for Koko Black chocolatier Remco Brigou, it has been a dream come true.
The Belgian native holds the envy-inducing title of head chocolatier and product innovator at the artisan chocolate brand. Brigou’s latest creation is an incredibly luxe range of ice creams in collaboration with Connoisseur. It’s a surprising first for Koko Black, which has never ventured into ice-cold desserts despite delighting chocolate lovers around the nation for nearly 20 years.
While two flavours — a classic vanilla and an indulgent honeycomb — are available at supermarkets around the country, Brigou’s three exclusive creations for Koko Black lounges in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth are dressed up with ingredients including melted chocolate, pistachio and chocolate pearls.
To celebrate the new Koko Black x Connoisseur ice cream range, we sat down with Brigou to talk about the new collaboration and what he loves about chocolate.
Hi Remco! Tell us a little about your journey. How did you become Koko Black’s head chocolatier and product innovator?
I started in hospitality at the age of 15, working and studying in Belgium, and by the age of 18 I had decided to specialise in chocolate and pastry. My love for chocolate and baking started when I was very little and has been my passion for as long as I can remember. From here, I worked with Marcolini in Brussels as their chocolatier and at 25 I moved to Australia for adventure, travel and a new challenge.
I started working with Koko Black as the head chocolatier leading the development of our full retail and lounge menus with new owner Simon Crowe — together we formed a vision to bring an Australian edge to artisanal chocolate and build the Koko Black brand as we know it today.
What is your favourite thing about what you do? What keeps you inspired?
I love chocolate and the possibilities are endless — from flavours within various [types of] chocolate to the flavours you can add and create. The discovery of new things, flavours and tastes is what inspires me.
A lot of people might think that making chocolate is a dream job. Are there less glamorous things in the job that people might be surprised to find out?
Not really, it truly is a dream job for me. I still love it as much as I did as a young boy.
What is your favourite type of chocolate and why?
Dark chocolate is definitely my favourite for its variation in flavour, depending on the origin of chocolate. It’s versatile and can pair beautifully with so many different flavours. I’m often asked which is my favourite Koko Black chocolate, [but that’s] like choosing a favourite child as they all have things to love. However, I think the dark hazelnut cluster might be the frontrunner.
Tell us about the Connoisseur collaboration. How did this come to life and what excited you about it?
We are always teaming up with fellow Australian artisans to make, create and have fun together. So when we were thinking of ice cream, Connoisseur [was] the top pick. Like us, they are premium, artisan and Australian-made, and they also love to create new flavours and combinations. It’s been really fun to work with them.
For the new flavours, we took the best of both brands — their vanilla ice cream and our dark 54-percent dark chocolate — for an elevated classic. The other flavour was created to reflect one of our best-selling items, Tasmanian leatherwood honeycomb. This required a delicate balancing of flavours to capture the true taste of the leatherwood honey, with our dark chocolate and honeycomb coating.
Were there any challenges you had to overcome to create Koko Black’s first ice cream? How did you get past these?
The balancing of flavours always takes some work, but it’s the part I enjoy most.
For more information on the luxe new collaboration, head to the Connoisseur and Koko Black websites.
Images: Julia Sansone
Published on November 22, 2021 by Nik Addams