Powered by difference
Sepp Zotter does things differently. For the Austrian from Graz, trained Zuckerbäcker and new-age chocolatier, “being different” is an important cornerstone of his professional philosophy. Zotter looks past “what was the way” and focuses on “what was never there”. Zotter’s creativity is powered by the new and the different.
Zotter and the chocolate factory
Twelve years ago, when Zotter began his serious relationship with “his chosen material” (chocolate) and founded his small chocolate factory he could have gone “classic”. He could have used small basic forms and inserted traditional centres. He could have made the accepted luxury chocolates. But Zotter chose another way. The chocolatier created a filling and hand-smothered it with couverture. Not as single chocolates, but in a single 70g block. In short, Zotter re-invented the chocolate bar. He tossed aside traditional centres and juggled with common and less common ingredients.
Chocolate’s revolutionary tastes
The taste results are exotic. “Shitake mushroom”: a creation of Japanese shitake mushrooms with caraway seed in dark bitter chocolate. ”Cracked pepper and Peppermint oil”; “Pistachio nuts in marzipan, refined with aniseed tea”; “Celery with Port”; and “Beeren-auslese Vinegar”.
The line up of Zotter’s products www.zotter.at makes astonishing “extravagant” reading. “new aromas, new tastes, more beautiful smells, this is what I’m aiming at” (Zotter). Zotter’s chocolate “excites the senses”.
The way-out, the never-before-imagined flavour combinations are bursting boundaries, so too the product’s packaging. Zotter’s wrappers are artistic and witty. They’re the work of his boyhood friend Andreas Gratze (a trained gastronome and later art school graduate). The two met again just as Zotter was launching his chocolate venture. “Back then we had simple blue, green and red wrap-pers” (Zotter). The idea of a single motive for each taste-mix sprang up over a glass of wine. Gratze quickly did simple pencil drawings. And that was it. “Advertising experts were sceptical. Customers were intrigued,” remembers Zotter.
“The gift of the bar renaissance”
The concept was correct, critics were proven wrong and Zotter’s business is flourishing. Half of production is sold to Germany and chocolate-country Switzerland!, with a smattering satisfying chocolate fanatics in America). “Chocolate is enjoying revived interest” says Zotter. “There was a long phase when eating chocolate offered no new thrill, no new fascination” (Zotter). Worse still, mass-production devalued chocolate. “Who would have dared, in the past decades, to thank a hostess with a cake of chocolate?” (Zotter).
With a Zotter bar, it’s different. One would dare. The brand name Zotter is known and synonymous with new taste aromas. Chocolate is being talked about. “It’s a revived theme “ (Zotter).
Zotter’s latest concept is “Running Chocolate”. Factory visitors can experience virtual chocolate production and participate in “tastings”. Created just for Christmas 2004 is the new “Lemon Confit with sea salt”. It joins Sepp Zotter’s standard Christmas classics decked out with a new Gratze wrapping. “I’m not the only small chocolate producer” explains Zotter, “there’s a growing number of boutique producers working as I do, with intuition, with love and with commitment”.
Copyright © LifeArt.net December 2003