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The time for feasting with loved ones is upon us, and what’s feasting without a generous serving of dessert? One of our favourite spots for just that is Venchi Pacific Place, where you’ll find the Italian chocolate and gelato makers showcasing their history of creativity and culinary craft across a range of sweet treats.

For this most delicious interview, The Style Sheet talks to Venchi’s lead on Chocolate Experiences, Giovanni Battista Mantelli — also known as the ‘creative soul’ of Venchi — about a career that reminds us of the fantastical world of Willy Wonka.

The Style Sheet: How did you get into the gourmet chocolate and treats business?

Giovanni: Let’s just say I didn’t get into it, but I was born into it. My bond with chocolate began at my birth — in fact, my grandfather baptised me symbolically with a chocolate drop! My passion and desire to experiment inspire me in my mission to create chocolate in all its forms to give a moment of pleasure and conviviality to people all over the world.

Venchi's Pacific Place Store

Could you tell us a little about the heritage of Venchi and your part in keeping its traditions going?

My commitment is to carry on the legacy of Venchi. Since I was young, I’ve deepened all the history and recipes from the early 1900s to today to maintain the link between tradition and innovation.

Can you tell us a little about your day-to-day role?

I try to enrich my daily life with continuous stimuli because I’m very curious. I love to stay in touch with passionate people, always looking for a link or possible match with our recipes. We also do weekly tastings to keep up to date with our customers’ tastes. I personally love to experience cocoa in cocktails and cooking to create combinations and experiences that are original.

What’s the process behind coming up with new ice cream or chocolate flavours? 

The process is a mix between the strong Italian identity we want to maintain and the encounter with many cultures towards which, with respect, we wish to offer a touch of our creativity. For example, for parts of Asia, we’ve created delicious local gelato flavours with dragon fruit or durian as well as green tea. We love to dress our traditions up with local behaviours and tastes.

The inspiration for new tastes requires at least a year of work and another six months of testing, depending on the recipe. And it comes from everywhere — tasting a dish, a journey, continuous meetings and suggestions sent by customers! We have internal discussions and many teams working around the world with whom we exchange a lot of ideas. But the greatest inspiration is the beauty of the landscape in which we live, surrounded by the Alps, with rolling hills cultivated with thousands of hazelnuts and grapes for fine wines such as Barolo.

Venchi Christmas Collection 2022

Which chocolates at Pacific Place are your favourite?

One of our most exciting novelties available in Pacific Place is our new spread, with 70 per cent less sugar. This new ‘suprema’ is perfect for all the chocolate lovers who care about physical well-being, and who follow a healthy diet without giving up a small moment of daily pleasure.

What’s new at Venchi Pacific Place for the holiday season?

It’s a holiday tradition for us to develop a limited edition of our iconic gift boxes. The 2022 Christmas collection is a tribute to tales that have fascinated us, and depicts a fairy-tale world in which animals bring gifts of elegant garlands, decorations and ribbons to create the same magical atmosphere and celebrations we experienced as children. We’ve filled these beautiful boxes with low-sugar and vegan chocolate with the aim of giving a moment of allegria (‘joy’) to everyone.