Bean to Dessert at Four Seasons Resort Lanai
Move over farm-to-table, there’s a new trend on the horizon - farm-to-dessert. At Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Executive Pastry Chef Bruce Trouyet elevates his desserts at the luxury Hawaiian resort with locally grown, Resort-processed cacao beans for an unforgettable culinary experience.
The journey begins on the island of Hawaii, where the cacao beans are grown. Michael and Viktoriya Hansen of Hard Rock Gardens moved to Hawaii 24 years ago, having sold their apple and cherry orchards in Washington State. They initially planned to plant and grow medicinal plants, but after experimenting with coffee and other crops, they ultimately landed on cacao. The pair discovered varied approaches to growing the bean and were successfully harvesting pods in a very short time.
Enter Farsheed Bonakdar, President of the Kona Cacao Association, who helped the Hansens develop a method of fermentation that properly converts the wet beans to a dried bean product of top quality. Michael was previously an award-winning winemaker and viticulturist who then leveraged his knowledge and experience of vines to beans.
Hawaii is at the northern extreme of where cacao is typically grown, yielding benefits such as higher butter content and diminishing the need for overstory tree protection as compared to hotter locales along the Equator. The farm is situated on the south facing slopes of Mauna Loa in Kealakekua, and the orchard’s criollo, forastero, and trinitario cacao trees thrive in the island's volcanic soils and bright sunshine. With an elevation of 800 feet (245 metres) above sea level, conditions stay a little cooler and drier, helping the cacao ripen and develop complex flavour profiles.
Chef Bruce then moves to the next step in the process – roasting. Getting the right level of toastiness is key to optimizing taste of the kokoleka, the Hawaiian word for chocolate. He says, “It’s similar to coffee, so the darker the roast, the stronger the flavour. I did a lot of taste testing to discover a balance between the roasting temperature and time that I felt yielded the best flavours and aromas.”
Once roasted, Chef starts the conching, whereby the chocolate is mixed and aerated in a grinding machine equipped with heavy stone rollers to make a paste. During this step he gradually adds organic sugar so after three days, the texture is extremely smooth, light and homogenous. He shares, “The final product is 72 percent cacao, made with passion, attention and love!”
The high level of cacao produces a wonderful balance between bitter and sweet, yielding a smooth taste - full-bodied with lots of tannins. As there are no preservatives nor emulsifiers, one can definitely detect notes of the soil, the land of Hawaii. Chef Bruce states, “At first I would say you get a slightly smoky flavour, then notes of vanilla, dry fruit and fruit burst through to your taste buds.”
Guests at ONE FORTY can indulge in Bean to Dessert, a delicious tartlet incorporating the chocolate along with macadamia praline, whipped ganache and crème brulée, or purists can just dig into a scoop or two of house made chocolate gelato.
Born in the South of France, Chef Bruce was raised close to the Italian border, gaining a first-hand appreciation of renowned food cultures in his formative years. He continued his hospitality journey at the Auguste Escoffier Culinary School in France to obtain three different levels of pastry degrees.
Visit @fslanai on Instagram for more photos and videos of Chef Bruce at work.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai