Samanta Bakker is the head chocolatier for Melbourne sweet-hearts (get it?) & chocolate dealers; Monsieur Truffe. Samanta's career in chocolate started as a pastry chef in Argentina, and then brought her to Australia where she has also worked with other iconic chocolate brands Koko Black and Kennedy & Wilson.
Samanta in her chocolate factory in Brunswick East, Melbourne.
A few years ago, we were lucky enough to collaborate with Samanta to create our Chai Walli Chocolate Bar. This sweet treat is quite a hit amongst chai and chocolate lovers, and we love having it as a part of our range!
With Easter just around the corner, we thought it was perfect timing to catch up with Samanta and find out a little bit more about her fabulous career and favourite chocolate moments...
Chai Walli: Hi Samanta! We think you must have the BEST job in the world! Could you tell us a little bit about your role at Monsieur Truffe and what it is like day to day being the head Chocolatier?
Samanta Bakker: The fun stuff is definitely when I get to work on the development of new products, limited edition chocolate bars and deciding on new flavours or working on custom projects for our customers (like Chai Walli!). However, there is a lot of planning and logistics to my job, ensuring that all the manufacturing processes run efficiently. I am in charge of planning and organising production schedules; assessing projects, selecting, ordering and purchasing materials, training staff. The list goes on and on…
Behind the scenes, preparing ingredients for custom chocolate bars.
SB: I’ve chosen a chocolate that has a flavour profile rich in roasted cacao, spices like cinnamon and clove, and a mild hint of earthy black tea. This chocolate became a blank canvas to showcase all the beautiful flavours of the Chai Walli blend.
CW: Amazing! How do you enjoy tea when you are at home? Do you have your own chai or tea ritual?
SB: I love enjoying chai at breakfast. I discovered chai 14 years ago when a friend that I worked with introduced it to me. It was very special to see her crushing spices with the pestle and mortar and brewing everything together. Since then I have loved it so much!
After work, and at home if my husband is around, I drink a lot of yerba mate. I’m from Argentina and it is kind of our national drink.
Then before going to bed I normally have chamomile tea or another relaxing herbal tea.
This is how we like to relax!
Have you tried our Relax & Unwind Ayurvedic Herbal Tea?
CW: We love sourcing our teas from single origin farms and tea estates in India, and I know that you do amazing things to showcase single origin chocolate at Monsieur Truffe! What are your favourite origins for cacao and why?
SB: They are all my favourite origins! Depending on what I’m working on and what flavours I want to showcase - then I choose the best cacao to match the purpose.
CW: We know that some single origin cacao can have a flavour profile that is similar to that of chai. If we want to try some single origin cacao that is reminiscent of black tea and spices...what should we look out for?
SB: Chocolate is far more complex than a simple indulgence. It’s filled with diverse taste, aromas and textures. The way that it has been processed also affects the way that it tastes.
I think the one that you should look out for would be the cacao from Sao Tome; it has a nice cocoa flavour with mild spices and hints of black tea. Note: Sao Tome is a country to the northeast of Trinidad and southeast of Guadalupe.
CW: With Easter coming up - this must be a crazy time of year for you! In fact, I’m sure for those outside of the chocolate industry, it would be hard to even understand how busy it would be! Could you describe the last few weeks leading up to Easter at Monsieur Truffe, in 5 words?
SB: In just one word: hectic.
One of the amazing Easter creations Samanta has been working hard on.
CW: Being a female-run small business, we love seeing other strong women in the food & beverage industry. We also hear you are a mum! How do you juggle all of your responsibilities at work and home?
SB: The key is to get organised and find the right balance in your own way…. Sometimes being a full time working mum can be a little bit difficult, you need to accept that there will be good and bad days and try not to stress too much. My child just started school this year so juggling work and family is not always easy. For that reason, having a great team at work makes things run smoothly!
CW: And lastly, we would LOVE to know the most decadent chocolate moment you’ve experienced in your career!
SB: I have completed many chocolate courses around the world, including two masters, which means plenty of amazing chocolate experiences! I think that my most decadent moment was last year when I was lucky enough to take a class with one of the most followed pastry chefs in the world, Amaury Guichon. Everybody loves chocolate, but Amaury's chocolate creations are so intricate and amazing, it’s a special kind of magic!
A BIG thank you to Samanta for making the time for us, in the busy lead up to Easter! If you are ever in Melbourne's inner north, be sure to check out Monsieur Truffe (situated in the wonderful East Elevation cafe in Brunswick East). Alternatively - you can (of course) pick up a block of our Chai Chocolate here, or click on the image below to purchase the chocolate as a part of our Ultimate Chai Treats Pack!