While training under master chocolatier Philippe Parc in France, Bruce Tanton received the inspiration to name his future chocolate lounge.
“I was adapting recipes and my very French instructor said, ‘You are a rogue,’ because he was very bound by the traditional French way of making chocolates, truffles and ganaches, and I really tried to adapt it,” Tanton says.
Coco Rogue, which is now open on Yonge Street between Davisville and Eglinton avenues, is a dessert lounge offering chocolate pairings with wine, scotch, beer and champagne.
“I’ve lived at Yonge and Eglinton for 20 years and I basically just wanted to build a place that was unique to the area,” he says. “I’m trying to stick to the French subtleties but at the same time I’m trying to adapt it to the neighbourhood and the local palette.”
Tanton says his initial idea was to create a chocolate shop and then everything evolved organically based on the property he leased, which is now home to a grand piano, chandeliers and a large projection screen that plays black and white movies.
“We make all handmade truffles and chocolate bars and chocolate bark,” Tanton says. “The overall concept is the five senses surrounding chocolate.”
He says scotches like Chivas Regal or Oban are the easiest to pair because the sweet flavours match the intensity of the chocolate, which he buys in palettes or 10 kg blocks from Mexico, Venezuela, Tanzania and Ghana.
“It’s very hard to source,” he says. “They’re all very unique origin chocolates and they vary somewhat in flavour from year to year much like a wine.”
He says one of the reasons he studied production moulding was so he could afford to source the best ingredients and produce the chocolate himself.
“The chocolate I use is the most expensive chocolate that can be found in the world,” he says. “I really had to build my own kitchen and make all the chocolates in house to bring the cost down.”
Tanton says he learned the chocolate trade in Vancouver, Toronto, New York and France. After his studies he travelled through Belgium, France and Italy for inspiration, although he says he didn’t know exactly what kind of business he would open at the time.
Tanton says he previously worked in pharmaceutical research and sales for 15 years and his biology degree still comes in handy.
“Chocolate is very technical to work with so surprisingly it’s actually a natural transition,” he says, adding that he doesn’t use any vegetable oil to make the chocolate easier to manage.
Since opening this summer, Tanton says the location has also become a hotspot for several TV and movie tapings and even a rap video.
As of this month he has extended his hours of operation to include lunch and added chocolate and cheese fondue options to the menu. He says he also offers chocolate bars, truffles and gift baskets to go.
“My original concept was if I build it, hopefully they will come — and they have,” he says.
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