CHEFS VICTOR AND NADIA DUARTE
Both Chefs Victor and Nadia Duarte have a background and an academic degree in culinary Sciences in Mexico City.
Victor started working as a pastry assistant with a French Chef, where he found out he had a talent for this in his own way.
He then started working at Tout Chocolat, where he was spoiled having all the Valrhona products to play with. He discovered how fun and different it was to work with this chocolate. He later became a pastry and chocolate instructor, just before moving to Edmonton in Alberta, Canada.
Working here and there, he ended up opening a coffee shop where he can give customers a different experience with chocolate.
Nadia was on another path just after university, until she started working at Tout Chocolat as well, years later. That’s where our paths crossed and decided to stick together in every way, as a couple, as partners in crime. Chocolate kept us together!
Nadia fell in love with all the flavors of this chocolate and all the chemistry behind it that seemed like magic.
What inspired you to enter the world of pastry?
V: The artistic part
N: All the different things I can learn about it. From artistic, techniques, chemistry, etc.
Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
V: In everything, on tv, on music, on food. I’m a visual person and get stuck on ideas and sometimes they come with that.
N: I like going “shopping” for ideas. I like going to markets, where I can find new ideas, flavors, textures, colors. Even at grocery stores, there’s a lot of diversity where you can feel in your palate something tingling, that is a new idea! Every single aisle is full of experiences.
Who in your life has been the biggest mentor/inspiration in your career?
V and N: Luis Robledo-Richards
How is your team responding to the new realities of the world during and eventually post-COVID-19?
Thankfully (or sadly), we didn´t have to adapt a lot to these changes, just because we opened mid-pandemic. Mostly we had to start with all this and feel the same struggle as all the small businesses. We, the team, have been taking it day by day.
What Social Responsibility/Community initiative are you the proudest of taking part in?
Anything that helps our neighborhood, food bank, bottle drive, etc. We are so grateful for our community that whatever they need we say yes!!
What are your hopes for the future of the world of food and pastry?
V: Make it more reachable for everybody, making it more simple and tangible. That everybody knows how to appreciate and recognize a good product for itself, not only for its price. Make less waste on packaging, business and food by itself.
What should the role of the food/pastry industry be in the community? The world? The environment?
V: Better mental health understanding, better salaries, more humane treatment to employees.
N: Be a better role, a better example of what the culinary arts are. Not only satisfying a human need but to also showing the skills needed to do this kind of job. The industry needs to re-evaluate the environmental impact, like packaging and preservation of products.
What is your earliest dessert memory?
V: Pan dulce, is the most popular sweet in Mexico. I went almost every day to the shop with my dad.
N: I didn’t like desserts! But I enjoyed our sour and chili-covered candies, like tamarinds and gummies. Also Flan!
If you could pass one bit of insight down to a chef just getting their start, what would it be?
V: Kitchen life is really hard, try first as a trainee if you can.
What is your favorite perk of the Cercle V program?
V: Have the chance to know all the new products.
N: All the online recipes, all the modifications you can do depending on the product you are using. It’s so useful and amazing!
When & how did you hear about Valrhona for the first time? / When & how did your “relationship” with Valrhona start?
V: Working at “Tout Chocolate” in 2006, that was the only company in Mexico that carried Valrhona. Once you try it, you are in love with it.
N: Working at “Tout Chocolate” in 2009, learning everything my coworkers knew about Valrhona changed completely my view on chocolate, not only because of flavors but working with it is such an incredible experience, that I want everybody that I know to experience.
Kio, Spud, Pequeño, Nena, Gordo, Vitor, Peter, Mister, Ceferino, Chaparrito de los pies, Tripon… and more to come.
Coma, Changa, manta or Miss.
Celsius or Fahrenheit?
N: What’s Fahrenheit? Lol
Favorite Valrhona Chocolate?
V: Depends on the mood, If I want something sweet I will go for Orelys, if I’m craving for something dark, will be Abinao. And obviously Manjari.
N: Dulcey and Manjari are some of the favorites. The rest vary a lot depending on what we are making or the mood, the weather… they are all so good!
V: Tacos on the street in Mexico.
N: Street food in Mexico.
Favorite flavor pairing with chocolate?
V: Hazelnut, spices, Mexican dried chilies (back to the origins of chocolate), raspberries, passion fruit, so many things.
N: I think I enjoy Valrhona by itself, I like enjoying the personality of each chocolate.
Coffee or Tea?
Favorite kitchen tool?
V: Rubber heat-resistant spatula.
N: Exoglass rigid spatula and confectionery cutter (guitar)
Who do you follow on social media?
V: Pastry-related, music-related, dogs, cats, and ferrets.
N: Animals, pastry, interesting random facts, arts and crafts.
Favorite type of dessert to make?
V: Whatever my wife asks me to make for her (fraisier, Tarte Tatin, Rice pudding, etc) and to eat ANYTHING well made with good quality products and techniques.
N: Flan, to eat and to make.