Crusellas: the best chocolatier in the world

At the age of 26, he wins the World Chocolate Masters in Paris with a spectacular elephant sculpture

Formed with greats such as Jordi Butrón (Espai Sucre), Eric Ortuño (L’Atelier Barcelona) and Josep María Rodríguez (La Pastisseria), who was also chosen as the best pastry chef in the world in 2011, Lluc Crusellas, who is part of the «100 young gastronomy talents”, selected by the Basque Culinary Center, has just returned as the best chocolate confectioner in the world. Yes, the 26-year-old Catalan has won the World Chocolate Masters, held at the Salon du Chocolate in Paris. It is the biggest competition in the world of the cocoa pastry.

He tells us that he has carried out six tests of a demanding level in which he has designed various creations with the same common thread: “A reflection on how we neglect the planet,” he says. Undoubtedly, the creation that really surprised the jury was an imposing elephant of just over two meters and 170 kilos, an animal that he chose as an answer, at least is more: «It is the largest animal, but the simplest. I wanted to come up with something powerful and elegant at the same time and I was able to take parts already made and disassembled”, he adds.

As for the techniques, he has applied the ideal ones in chocolate sculpture, which are sculpting, molding, and pattern making: “To create the ears and the trunk, among other parts, we designed some moulds,” explains Lluc, who has recognized that in his workshop, during the months prior to the contest, he has come to create up to eight elephants as training, since during the competition he had to do it in only three hours. Also, in addition to using natural paints, the floor on which he rests he has devised from a technique called “choco aire”: “It is about placing the chocolate in a vacuum packaging machine.This swells, you let it crystallize and it remains as if it were aerated sugar coal. It is as if it were a volcanic rock, but it is air chocolate.As for the rest of the tests, Lluc prepared a small cherry, bitter almond and dark chocolate dessert. Also, a lemon and olive oil bonbon, a dessert, which was a caramelized apple seed, milk chocolate, almond and vanilla praline, “which represents optimism towards the future and with which I wanted to make people reflect on the fact that until on dry land there is always a sprout. Finally, he presented a brioche without sugar, but sweet, since it extracted the sugars from the gluten. Elaborations in which he used a dark chocolate with a milky point.Chocolate elephant with which he competed in ParisChocolate elephant with which he competed in Paris.

Crusellas is the pastry chef at El Carme Pastisseria, located in Vic (Barcelona), where he devises ephemeral jewels marked by the search for formulas that allowconquer the consumer both through the organoleptic experience and with fresh and very visual proposals. Thus, when asked where the trends are evolving, it is clear to him that he was making sweet recipes for pure chocolates, with clean flavors, of very good quality, made from local ingredients, and moving away from substitutes: «It is necessary that chocolates and pastry have added value at the product level, that have a message”, he explains, while admitting that he feels responsible for creating a culture, educating consumers so that they know good products, where to buy them and why they should pay a price for them.

In short, he invites us to approach original chocolates in the same way that we now do not understand enjoying a non-specialty coffee: «In France,We have a great job ahead of us to show what the quality, healthy and sustainable product is.” He is enthusiastic about the origins of Indonesia, because “they have a smoky touch when they are dried with wood and fire, since the humidity is high.” She is committed to controlling the sugar in the pieces, which are part of a fine and elegant work: “We cannot forget that pastry is a pleasure and that we must give the body some joy.” Also, for looking for alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant, which is why it includes chocolates with coconut milk and creations obtained from vegetable gelling agents, which allow textures provided by dairy products to be achieved.

Innovating is not easy, since it consists of “finding solutions to things that do not work to improve them”, while creativity is understood as “designing things that have not been seen to differentiate themselves”. How? «Looking for organic textures, natural colors and textures and clean flavors to mark my style». Thus, as a novelty, he applies a new technique based on a 3D-printed tampon, which he uses to mark the chocolates and give them that texture of the cracks of dry earth ». A note, whoever passes by your house these days should know that Christmas is here and yours can be nougats, panettone and individual cakes, such as cheese, chocolate, lemon and the chocolate version of tiramisu, your favorite.