Fine & Raw, one of Brooklyn's avant garde bean-to-bar chocolate producers, moved here.
On paper, Daniel Sklaar's experience prior to starting Fine & Raw five years ago has little to do with chocolate. Still, it's his sense of style - of what is and will be hip - that matters. To Daniel chocolate is ephemeral as fashion. I was sipping hot chocolate at his spacious location on Seigel Street when he came down to see me. Interestingly, he didn't ask me what I thought about the chocolate (which was sensational). Instead, he asked for my opinion on the design of the heart on the cup I was sipping from. Still, he's firm and succinct about his product: "Food should be classic. Simple." His chocolate is deliberately roasted at low temperature; his truffles are flavored with authentic olive oil.
Daniel is surely not a classic Brooklyn industrialist, but an "eco-chic and forward" designer and innovator. On a private tour of his operation, he pointed out equipment he personally improvised for efficiently winnowing (separating the husk from the cacao) and conching (the last step in the flavoring and refining process). Toward the end of the tour, he alluded to a space reserved for cacao trees. Chocolate producers get their cacao from the tropics naturally, but Daniel may eventually produce an exclusive "jungle-to-bar" chocolate right here in Brooklyn. Honestly, I didn't get Daniel. But I really dug his imagination and style.