After moving his chocolate factory from Manhattan to Brooklyn in 2013, Jacques Torres was contemplating what to do with his space at 350 Hudson St. The renowned pastry chef, dubbed Mr. Chocolate, decided it was the perfect location to bring a new type of chocolate experience to New York.
“I had different options of what to do in that space,” Torres said. “But I love the idea of teaching and entertaining the customers so I finally opened a museum with a friend of mine who already owns a few around the world.”
That friend is Eddy Van Belle, founder of similar chocolate museums in Bruges (Belgium), Paris, Prague and Uxmal (Mexico). In March, they brought Choco-Story New York, The Chocolate Museum and Experience with Jacques Torres to life in the 5,000-square-foot space.
The one-room museum dives into the world of chocolate by showcasing its evolution. There are priceless artifacts used to make chocolate, some dating back to the B.C. era, as well as modern-day objects. Notably visitors get to see the way Mayans made hot chocolate by hand with a special demonstration. A bon-bon making station also gives chocolate lovers another glimpse into the process of making chocolate.
“It’s very involved to make chocolate,” said Torres. “I think when people come they will understand what it takes to make chocolate. But not only that, the history is fun.”
Children are encouraged to get more involved at an educational corner where they can search for “undiscovered artifacts” in a sand pit. There’s also a toy kitchen and cash register so they can mimic a “chocolate shop proprietor.”
Of course the experience wouldn’t be complete without having a taste. Torres’ products are available throughout nine tasting stations where visitors can indulge. Torres, who was raised in France and opened his first New York chocolate factory in 2000, prides himself on quality, often making his own chocolate from scratch. One of his favorite beans to work with is Criollo. It’s of such high quality, he said, there is no need to add too much sugar.
Those inspired to spend the day in Torres’ shoes can do so. For an extra cost ($40–$45), the museum offers a hands-on chocolate making class taught by a professional chocolatier. Participants get to take all their goodies home.
“I want to show people that quality makes a big difference,” said Torres. “I hope that when they leave us they understand we are a company that works with quality product and quality ingredients.”
Choco-Story New York is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am-5pm. Tickets are $10–$15.