One of my favorite guilty pleasures in Fairfield County is Chocopologie, run by master chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt. You would think he was born with an affinity for exotic chocolates. The famous chocolatier has created some of the most surprising flavors and sought after sweets in the nation. The Denmark born native has trained with some of the most prestigious restaurants in Europe and New York City, establishing his roots in Norwalk, CT.
Fritz’s culinary groundwork in mixed food cultures shines through in this Chocolatier’s hand made fine artisan chocolates. While there are plenty of cocoa makers who claim chocolate is an art form, Fritz turns his chocolates into fine art. Like his line of truffles, inspired by an intoxicating palette of sweet and savory chocolates that are filled with a surprising combination of herbs and spices. Each creation shares a captivating name to compliment each truffle flavor, like the coconut truffle -Helena, a real blond who loves the Caribbean. Burnt caramel with sea salt truffle – Hannah, take a dip with this Hawaiian beauty. Mocha nougatine truffle – Carrie, rough features, but a great experience.
Equally yoked are Fritz’s delicious array of sauces and syrups to inspire your next dish. Stirring up flavors like passion fruit with ginger, grapefruit paired with rosemary and spicy chili chocolate sauce. Housing traditional favorites like cream brûlée and walnuts in red wine (Noix au Bordeaux). I can see myself drizzling these onto everything! I’m guilty of eating these straight from the jar.
I had a chance to sit down and sweet talk with Fritz and ask him a few questions about growing up cultured in food, chocolate and his life today.
GC: Tell us what inspired you to become a Chocolatier?
FK: I would have to say that my love of food started at a young age. I was very fortunate to have parents that took my sisters and I on many trips throughout Europe where we were exposed to all different types of food at a very early age. My parents loved food and to travel. My father’s side of the family are all artists and my mother’s side of the family are all entrepreneurs. I guess a little bit of both rubbed off on me as I’m creative with food, but also interested in business. I began flourishing in the restaurant industry, and at the same time, the chocolate industry was going through a radical transformation. We had access to the best raw chocolate and incredibly fresh ingredients. This was heaven for a young creative chef and I absorbed it all and pursued my dream.
GC: Many of the chocolates you create are named after women, why?
FK: Each chocolate truffle features a women’s name and narrative of her personality. I thought personalizing them was unique, fun and enticing as the chocolates themselves.
GC: Your chocolates have unique flavor pairings, are these inspired by other cuisines?
FK: I loved to experiment with sweet & savory flavors and I continued to do so with chocolate. At that time, I moved to the USA as a private chef cooking for a famous clientele. After which I was sponsored by a French restaurant in New York. People were truly stunned when they tasted the infusions of chocolate and spices. They thought I was crazy, but as they tasted the chocolates, they soon realized that these combinations were true matches in heaven. It felt good to be a pioneer in the modern chocolate making and bring new spicy sweet experiences to people.
GC: What is the one ingredient you can’t live without?
FK: Elderflower! I Love elderflower, I use it to make savory dishes, sweets, chocolates, and frosting.
GC: What’s your idea of the perfect meal?
FK: In a perfect world, it would be what’s around us, preferably everything local and whats in season and super fresh, where the flavors are embraced and sustainable. I’m a foodie, I love good food. I have a large farm table in my dinning room where I invite family and friends. It’s where I feel the most comfortable cooking and entertaining.
GC: If you could invite anyone over for dinner, who would it be?
FK: My Grandmother and Grandfather, I would love to have them live in this day and age where they could experience everything as I do. It would great to share my life with them today, I learned so much from both of them, through travel, food and a great set of morals and values they instilled in me.
GC: What’s your favorite thing about the Norwalk and the New Haven Café’s?
FK: Norwalk & New Haven are both fun and exciting towns, they both have an urban feel, much like New York City and Europe, it’s what drew me here in the first place. It’s the right fit for Chocopologie.
GC: Any words of advice for someone aspiring to become a Chocolatier?
FK: Keep it simple, don’t follow the masses, create your own style and follow your dream.
Upon entering this chocolatiers cafe, you’re greeted with a bohemian chic decor of burlap covered chairs, a large farm table, additional ottoman seating, vintage tables and rustic antiques cabinets. Take a few more steps further into the cafe you’ll find yourself walking down a long corridor lined with farm style viewing windows into the kitchen. Here you watch pastry chefs and candy makers whip, mix, fold, pour and mold the decadent chocolates.
You quickly find yourself inhaling that sweet seducing scent of chocolate, making you forget everything else around you. Fritz believes that to make great chocolates you must first start with the best and freshest ingredients you can find locally or from around the world. It’s no wonder Chocopologie is considered one of the best chocolatiers in the country. Don’t take my word for it; try one and you’ll become a believer, too.
The quality doesn’t end with the chocolate. You can see the special care and beauty reflective in the packaging as well. Chocopologie is also know for perhaps the most expensive piece of chocolate in the world, La Madeline Au Truffle, for a price of $250 a truffle. The truffle is made with a dark 70% Valrhona cacao, creamy ganache filling, drizzled with a French black truffle oil and dusted with cocoa. If you find yourself inclined to try this luscious truffle it’s available on a pre-order basis.
Chocopologie provides pastries, chocolates and sauces to some of the best known restaurants and retailers in CT and NYC, so you may have experienced some of their delicious desserts beyond their local Cafés. Fritz gifted me with his signature box of chocolates (the box shown above). Luscious truffles filled with rosewater, balsamic, pomegranate, raspberry, lavender, tangerine, chili, mocha and caramel flavors. Please don’t ask me how long they lasted. I can tell you they were all delicious!
Chocopologie SONO Café serves a full lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menu and of course their amazing selection of desserts, as well as a bar menu. While Chef Fritz Knipschildt is enjoying great success with his Cafés in SONO and New Haven, he will be adding another location to his culinary empire in downtown Stamford. Keep a look out for the opening this fall. If your interested in learning how to make chocolate, Chocopologie offers classes (call for itinerary.)