It’s 4am and I am craving a simple cup of hot chocolate. Not the kind I can get in my hotel room, where I pour a packet of powder into a cup of steaming hot water and stir. Nor something that I could order from a Starbucks drive thru (if I were so inclined to do that at 4 in the morning – which I’m not).

No, what I’m craving is the real stuff. The hot chocolate you make on the stove, where you use milk and real chocolate … whether it be cacao or chocolate shavings. The kind that you stir, slowly, repeatedly so that it doesn’t burn. The kind that has a smooth texture as you sip it – so smooth, so real, that it doesn’t need a dollop of whipped cream on top (although, you’ll never find me declining home made whipped cream).

I met a man last month who understood the difference and the importance to enjoying hot chocolate.

Thierry Rautereau, an award winning chef from France, now resides in Seattle. I had the privilege of meeting him and listening to him share his chocolate passion with me one night as I met my amazing (and beautiful) editor, Carmen Johnson.

If you live in Seattle, or plan to visit there, you must go to Loulay and meet the Chef in the Hat (otherwise known as Thierry Rautereau). And if you do go there, get the chicken…it’s amazing. But when it comes time for dessert…without question, as for the Chef’s Hot Chocolate. It comes with toasted brioche, topped with salted butter. And if you are lucky, the Chef in the Hat himself will come to tell you a story.

Every dish Chef Thierry created for Loulay was inspired from his home in France. His hot chocolate is no different. As a young boy, his grandmother used to make him a cup of hot chocolate before bed. While the chocolate was melting in the warm milk, she would toast brioche in the fire.image

Now – I’ve never had toast with my hot chocolate. But, it will be hard for me to never think of this story while drinking homemade hot chocolate from now on.

As a young boy, he used to dunk his salted butter brioche into his hot chocolate. The idea of soggy bread didn’t sit well with me, but Chef Thierry insisted it was a match made in heaven and I have to admit. He was right.

Hot Chocolate in Paris

Hot Chocolate in Paris

I’m heading to Paris in a week. One of my favorite memories from last year was finding this little shop behind my hotel that served macarons and hot chocolate. Chef Thierry’s hot chocolate reminded me of that day when I sat outside this little shop sipping the warm, sweet drink. It was smooth, delicate and perfect. Not too thick like other chocolate I drank while there, but just perfect.

Hot chocolate will never be the same for me again. Thank you, Chef Thierry.