Jacques Torres left Manhattan’s Le Cirque to open his own chocolate factory in Brooklyn—and brought his best recipes over the bridge with him.
Outside his new chocolate factory in Brooklyn, Jacques Torres is the only sign of life on a street lined with abandoned buildings, right underneath the Manhattan Bridge, in an emerging neighborhood nicknamed DUMBO. Having traded in his chef’s whites for a navy construction suit, he seems a world away from Le Cirque, the gilded restaurant where he was a pastry superstar for 12 years. The calluses on his hands, once burns from handling hot cookie sheets and molten sugar, now come from hauling equipment around to set up his factory. Not that he’s complaining. "My father was a carpenter so I don’t mind the work," Torres says humbly. The difference is that his father didn't use pastry bags to caulk walls and kitchen spatulas to spackle. Nor did his father take a jackhammer to a block of chocolate to break it up, as Torres does. Describing all his new chocolate-making tools, Torres is clearly in his element. He explains that the chocolate-coated cornflakes and decadent peanut butter cups that once appeared on his petit four tray at Le Cirque will be for sale at the retail shop adjoining his factory, along with assorted chocolate candies, hot chocolate and edible centerpieces. You’ll find his best recipes, as well as his tips on tempering chocolate to give it a beautiful sheen. His friends back home in France might sneer at the idea of chocolate-covered cornflakes—how American!—but Torres says, "I’m not snobby about food. If it’s good, it’s good." And yes, we agree, it is good.(Jacques Torres Chocolate, 66 Water St., Brooklyn; 718-875-9772; www.mrchocolate.com)