Johnny Iuzzini

Johnny Iuzzini learns a thing or two from Sylvia Weinstock and her adorable husband, Ben.

on Nov 10, 2010 Some of the chefs didn’t think they were given enough time to create their truffles — how hard are they to make?
Johnny Iuzzini: Making chocolates is an art and skill in all of its own. You need to be comfortable and experienced with chocolate in order to work fast and efficiently. There are a lot of factors that come into play when crystallizing or tempering chocolate. When you buy chocolate it is already tempered, it is shiny crisp, has a nice snap and melts evenly and smoothly in your mouth. Have you ever left a bar of chocolate in a car on a hot day? It gets soft and melty, but if you put it in the fridge or let it cool it will get hard again. It isn't the same though, is it? It gets kind of white and streaky, kind of sandy and grainy, and almost chalky in texture. What has happened is that it has lost its temper or is no longer properly crystallized. This is exactly what happens when you melt chocolate but do not follow a strict set of guidelines in order to reallign the beta crystals in the choocolate. Long story short, the chocolate must be melted to a certain temp, for dark chocolate 45 degrees C, then partially cooled to 27 degrees C, then rewarmed to 31 C in order to work with it and have it set up looking like it did when you bought it. Then other factors come into play, like room temperature. If the room is too warm and the chocolate takes too long to set then you are in trouble as well. Now talking about the fillings, you want a flavorful, pop-in-your-mouth explosion of aroma and flavor. Chocolates tend to be small, so it is important that they are intense. You want the chocolate shel around the chocolate to be thin and crisp. It is true, two hours to make this happen is tough, very tough, although not impossible, as we have been shown. It takes a lot of organization and diligence to make it happen. Some of them had it and some didn't. Which ones stood out to you for better or worse?
JI: Zac had some strong flavor combinations in theory. Chocolate and pretzels is a classic combination and one that I truly love. Peanut butter and jelly? Need i say more? I love it and this is a combination in a bon bon i often make myself for our guests at Jean Georges. Green tea and lemon could be good as long as they are balanced and are not competing. The lemongrass, lime, and ginger would have been better if it were in dark chocolate. I knew it was going to be too sweet. Danielle's combination of coconut was probably one of the most original of the bunch. I never thought about making a pineapple jam for a bon bon, but I may have to steal that one. Chocolate banana is another classic combo that if done right could really deliver. The baseball was pretty cool and all the textures sounded amazing. The rocky road chocolate also packed a bunch of texture in a small package, and probably would have been a favorite of mine. Morgan really poured a lot of himself in his chocolates, and I think it paid off. You also see that Morgan had finished ahead of the others, showing how truly comfortable he is with the medium of chocolate. Passion is a strong flavor and works really well with dark chocolate. Morgan's second chocolate incorporated acai and rose water. Two interesting flavors in conjunction with chocolate, and I think it was finished in a very feminine and classy way. Mendiant and rocher are two unique classics that I have never seen paired together. It was clever and thoughtful, and I am sure Francois was impressed, although his story details were a bit over-the-top and a bit too much information. His last truffle was the second green tea ganache we have seen. Again, if they would have tasted their ganaches before molding they could have balanced them better, but when you are working against a clock -- sometimes you overlook these details and make mistakes. Yigit didn't complete the challenge as he was missing a chocolate. Maybe if he would have been able to make it happen, he may have taken the win. His other truffles looked strong. Apricot pate de fruits and orange flower water with the milk chocolate ganache sounded great.  The coconut milk and chai tea looked cool and was is a very special flavor combination. The almond and honey truffle looked good to me because the ganache seemed soft and smooth, and was rolled in that crispy flaky crunch. Yigit is continuing to kind of fall apart — what does he need to do to get back on top?
JI: Again, he needs to really evaluate how much time he has in each challenge and work within those limits. Yigit has a lot of technique and skill, and is always trying to go above and beyond but has come up short a number of times. He needs to focus and choose his path wisely, trust his gut, and cook from his heart if he wants to get back on top and stay there.