The very thought of visiting a real-life chocolate factory brought to mind childhood memories of watching Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, one of my all-time favourites. When I was invited to visit Éntisi’s chocolate factory in Mumbai by its dynamic founder Nikki Thakker, I jumped at the opportunity.
For those who haven’t already gorged on Entisi’s awesome chocolates, it is a gourmet chocolatier recently opened its first Mumbai boutique Santacruz West. At the opening of the boutique I got chatting with Nikki who invited me to visit the factory in Thane, which I gladly accepted.
I thought I’d start my morning at Éntisi’s factory by learning more about the chocolatier herself. Interestingly, Nikki was not always a chocolatier. She went down the regular corporate path before deciding to pursue something of her own.
In her words, “I did my double masters, first in economics and then an MBA, I was talking with a lot of companies to join marketing divisions and even investment banking, but there was always something I wanted to do on my own. That’s the reason I decided to give up those professions and start this. A lot of people tried to dissuade me, but this was a big passion for me. Then came the next question in my head – what did I want to do?”
I then ask her why she chose to open a chocolate factory instead of anything else, she said, “It goes without doubt that I love chocolate and whenever I travelled abroad I always bought chocolate at European boutiques and carried them back to India. There’s always been that gap in India, which is why we buy chocolate from abroad. So the whole idea of starting a chocolate factory is so that we can have the same quality of product, or even better in India. People come to India for technology, IT talent, but it’s not a country of good chocolate. So that was something I wanted to do. I wanted India to be proud as a country that can make good chocolates as well. People always ask me if I eat chocolate. Of course I eat chocolate. I eat at least 200-250gm of chocolate per day.”
“I cant stop!” she exclaims.
Nikki trained in Italy and Belgium before opening her own factory in May 2017.
Her new boutique, Éntisi, has received rave reviews from Mumbai’s chocolate lovers.
It’s now time to see where all the magic happens, and actually visit the factory. Nikki leads me into the main area of the factory and I see two huge automatic tempering machines. The first weighs 60kgs and the other weighs 24kgs.
“When you’re dealing with pure chocolate”, Nikki says, “you have to treat it at different temperatures before you actually start using it. Otherwise it won’t have the shine it’s supposed to have, and it wont set properly. So if you’ve seen at any display counter, chocolates have a shine. This is because of the tempering. The right temperature is 30-32 degrees. That’s what these machines do.”
Raspberry is one of her favourite flavours of chocolate, and so she proceeds to show us exactly how she makes her Raspberry bonbons.
First, the tray is sprayed with their beautiful colours, that also have to be treated to the right temperature, as the Éntisi factory uses only pure cocoa butter.
Nikki explains, ”Treating the colour at different temperatures is also very important. There is lots of technicality involved. Pure chocolate has cocoa butter. We use 100% cocoa butter. You have to treat it before you use it. The right temperature for the colour is 27-28 degrees. Also, every mould is done by hand.”
After the tray is sprayed, it goes into the freezer to set. When it’s ready, the shell is made. Once the shell sets, it is filled with the delicious raspberry ganache. Also vey interesting to know, Nikki tells us that, “no artificial flavours are used. We use real raspberries, real blueberries, etc. that are all imported from France. For our ginger lime flavour, fresh ginger that we get locally is used, as ginger tastes best when it is fresh.”
Once all the trays are filled with ganache, it goes back into the refrigerator until they are ready to be sealed with more chocolate! It sounds so easy right? Honestly though, you really need patience when dealing with pure chocolate.
While we wait for the chocolate to set, Nikki takes me to the roasting room, as well as the panning room, where they make their famous and delicious Dragées, that our my personal favourite. She tells me that all her chocolate is sourced from Belgium and France, with the exception of her single origin chocolates that are sourced from Madagascar, Ghana, Tanzania and Ecuador. Nikki says that she’s pleasantly surprised that her business picked up so quickly and that during Diwali, they sold 10,000 boxes of chocolate in a span of a month. That is 4 tons of chocolate!
As things stand, the Éntisi factory churns out a gamut of exquisite chocolate varieties like Bonbons (in extremely rare and delicious flavours), Dragées, Single Origin Chocolate Bars, etc.
Nikki ends our wonderful tour and experience in her factory by telling me in jest, “ I come to work everyday thinking and knowing that I will face at least three problems in the day. It is the only way I will survive. Everyday is a new issue, but I love what I do and I keep moving forward.” Surely, having a job that requires you to be surrounded by indulgent coffee all day long is no easy task!
Check out Éntisi at http://entisi.com
Experienced by Kristianne Mascarenhas