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For gourmet foodies or those with a sweet tooth, Israeli and Swiss couple Amit Oz and Celine Herren pretty much have the dream job — handcrafting artisan chocolate for their bean-to-bar confectionery brand Conspiracy Chocolate. Stocked in Pacific Place’s Sweet World, the brand fuses curious and experimental flavours, often incorporating ingredients used in Mediterranean cuisine with the Swiss way of chocolate making.

Is making chocolate as fun as it sounds? ‘Well, it is hard to make chocolate and be angry,’ says Celine. ‘Making something with your hands, especially food, is therapeutic and a way to connect us with nature and with ancient processes. It’s also a constant learning process, because every batch is different and we need to tweak the process every time.’


‘We typically wake up at eight,’ says Celine. ‘I do some yoga and Amit checks emails. We start by planning our day using a weekly production plan that we typically follow because a single chocolate bar needs five days to produce. We don’t eat breakfast because we intermittently fast, but we do prepare our lunch in the morning — it generally involves eggs, avocado, sourdough bread and some kind of salad — before going to the kitchen in Wong Chuk Hang.’


‘We generally arrive in the kitchen by nine,’ says Amit. ‘First, we turn on the tempering machine and fill it with fresh chocolate because it takes some time to warm up. We then plan how many bars of which flavours we are making that day. This will depend on things like orders and inventory. We weigh and prepare the toppings that we’ll use. Celine generally takes care of roasting the nuts, grinding the spices and hand-picking the Sichuan pepper we use while I’m at the stove toasting the spices and making caramel and brittle. Once the toppings are ready, they go in and the chocolate is ready to be moulded. This is where we need to work fast and precisely because each topping requires a different process. We tend to focus on one flavour at a time, which also makes more sense in terms of the kitchen tools we need. We take the right amount of chocolate for one mould, mix in the topping and mould it. We then tap the moulds on the counter to spread the chocolate evenly and remove the air bubbles, and put it in the fridge to set. We repeat the same process for all the flavours for the day.’


‘We usually eat the light lunch we prepared while the chocolate is setting in the fridge. If the machines have some trouble, or we get stressed and things start going wrong, we go out instead and have a comforting pho to hit the reset button,’ says Celine.


‘Once the moulded bars are ready, we carefully take the bars out and package them. Then we might move on to doing some flavour experiments. For example, we’ve been experimenting with halva in the past few weeks but we’re still refining the recipe. Next, we’ll usually do some roasting. Roasting takes us about half an hour per four-kilo batch, and we do about three batches at a time. We leave the beans to cool down overnight. The next day we crack and winnow the roasted beans and fill in the conching machines that run for three days, slowly turning the cacao beans into smooth chocolate. We make adjustments to this process based on tasting the result daily. After all this comes about an hour of cleaning up before we go home to Sai Ying Pun at about five,’ explains Amit.


‘The evenings are mostly spent at home with our cat Beyoncé looking at the business side of the company,’ concludes Celine. ‘We might plan new flavours with some brainstorming and tasting sessions. This is perhaps our favourite side of the business, especially when it involves spices used in savoury cooking that might seem weird with chocolate. The creativity is endless, and we often discuss crazy flavours ideas late into the night. We’re actually working on a limited-edition Christmas product that will be available soon — hint: it’s not a chocolate bar! We also use this time to stock up the shops where we sell and spend time getting their feedback. We like to include the shopkeepers in the process and let them taste new developments so they can have this discussion with their customers. Alternatively, we might go for a night hike on the Peak or hit the gym. We then cook a healthy dinner and answer some emails and discuss marketing and sales. We live together, so we never really stop talking about chocolate.’