Bernard Callebaut is a chocolatier, that is, a person who makes chocolates. He is a member of the famous Belgian Callebaut chocolatier family which produced couverture in a factory founded by Bernard's great-grandfather in 1911.

Bernard grew up surrounded by chocolate, and when his family's factory was sold to Suchard Toblerone in 1980, he moved to the unlikely destination of Calgary, Alberta. His idea was to produce a line of chocolate products of a quality never before experienced by North Americans. In this he has succeeded. Bernard is the first in his family to specialize in the production of small filled, covered chocolates, which the French call pralines.

In 1996 Bernard was the first North American chocolatier ever invited to the Festival International du Chocolate (International Festival of Chocolate) in France; invited as an "honoured guest", he won the Prix d'Excellence. He won the Prix d'Excellence again in 1997, and in 1998 was received the top award for the competition, the Grand Prix International Artisan Chocolatier. In addition, the French government, which takes gastronomy seriously, has inducted him into the Confrerie Du Nougat (Brotherhood of the Nougat) and the Ordre International De La Gastronomie Francaise (International Order of French Gastronomy).

Bernard Callebaut Chocolates produces top quality chocolate without the use of artificial additives to extend the shelf life of the product. Their bittersweet baking chocolate (get the "beans", not the bars) is delicious, and their whole cherries in brandy, dipped in chocolate - available at Christmas and Valentine's Day - are truly amazing. They sell pralines in many flavours, as well as cunning molded chocolates in any shape you can imagine: sports cars, golf clubs, flowers, dogs, Santas, and on and on.

I've had the good fortune of taking a short class with Bernard, and I can tell you that he's a tall, almost gangly guy with a charming accent, a good sense of humour, and a true passion for chocolate. He showed us how to temper chocolate, a time-consuming process that I'm not likely to reproduce in my own home, and made some easy and lovely truffles; my version of the recipe is here.

There seem to be a number of official Bernard Callebaut websites, but the one which lists all the stores, allows you to order online, and has recipes for dark and white chocolate mousse as well as chocolate fantasy cookies, is
www.bernardcallebaut.com

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