Meet Oregon Winner Xocolatl de David
Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 in Chocolate by Heather Hammel
David Briggs is the owner and chocolatier of Xocolatl de David. He started Xocolatl de David informally in 2005, experimenting with flavor combinations while working as a sous-chef at Park Kitchen. A trained chef, he now makes chocolate full-time using a single origin criollo bean from Ecuador and sources many of his add-in ingredients locally.
David Briggs from Xocolatl de David loves the different ones — the chocolate-rhubarb spread that he describes as an inverse truffle and admits doesn’t sell nearly as well as his award-winning Salted Caramel bar, the broken shards of his Almond and Pimenton Bar which he keeps for himself, and, his new experiment, Parmigiano-Reggiano, which he plans to grate and fold into a bar to be released soon.
It’s not often that you hear chocolate described as “approachable” and conversely, non-approachable, but coming from a one-man chocolate business with a webpage devoted entirely to chocolate and pig, it’s not too surprising. “I got into [chocolate-making] kind of by accident,” David said. While working at a restaurant in Portland, David began experimenting with different food crafts on the side; chocolate-making stuck and before long “it got to a point where I either had to go with it full time or forget about it.”
One guess as to which path he chose. A few years later, he is still a one-man business, though he attributes much of his growth to the community around him. “Portland is a small city and being a part of the food community here for almost 7 years makes it even smaller,” he said. “The people here in Portland are dedicated locavores … and I would not be where I am today if it were not for chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and fellow artisans here offering help in anyway that they can.” He credits the Good Food Awards for bringing together different communities from around the country while doing his part to support his own local community.
He sources many of the products used in his chocolates and confections from the area around Portland. “I have a handful of farms that I work with for specialty products and others whose products seemingly don’t work well with chocolate but I use them,” he said. “Especially around spring, when people are getting excited about the produce — the peas, rhubarb, tomatoes — sometimes chocolatiers are like ‘eh’ but I try to get excited.” He also sources specialty products from abroad, such as ground black truffle from Italy to be used a new bar and a variety of olive oils from different growing regions — California, Italy, Greece and Austria — for a line of boxed truffles. The liquid state of olive oil lowers the melting temperature of the vegan truffle, making for a very soft texture when eating despite its solid appearance.
Most of David’s creations veer on the side of savory, rather than sweet. “I’m a savory cook,” he said. “I come from the cooking side, not the pastry world.” As a self-taught chocolatier, he teaches classes on making caramel sauce and caramels to the general public and does chocolate tastings. While he has been operating as a one-man production out of a very small kitchen, he does think about bringing another person into his team, but is looking for a “good working relationship” where they can learn from each other. “It’s an ever learning process, hopefully I can bring people in,” he said.