With festive season in sight, get ready to be bombarded with tons of sweet treats. And, if you’re looking for a present that’ll steal the spotlight, put your trust in Ether Atelier Chocolat. ELLE chatted with Chef Prateek Bakhtiani, a biochemistry graduate who realised his passion for desserts and studied at the Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. A serial globetrotter, Bakhtiani heads a Mumbai-based brand that makes chocolates which are the opposite of the sickly sweet, commercial ones. Each flavour, ingredient and texture is thoughtfully layered to create a piece of visual art. “Living and working in different countries made me start noticing that no matter where I went, there was an immense, underlying numbness to the way we live life. I want to give my clients something that not only tastes and looks great, but makes them feel what I want them to feel,” says Bakhtiani.
On what makes Ether special, he explains, “My artistic point of view is at the heart of the company, so I never lose sight of it. Each collection is based on a specific memory, point of view and feeling and the aim is to transport you to the emotional ecosphere from which it came.” His Clover Club collection will remind you of a classy, uptown New York jazz bar and has flavours of juniper, raspberry, gin, caramel, passion fruit and pink salt. Nero Lanka is inspired by something closer to home–the smell of moss growing on old, wet Bandra walls. It has notes of moss, tree sap, lime, mango, cacao and burnt sugar.
The unique ingredients used are sourced from local markets in India and abroad. “We work only with single origin chocolate and boast of a vast range of cacao origins from Madagascar, Ecuador and Indonesia,” he explains. When picking flavours, Bakhtiani makes it a point to never compromise on quality. He says, “I prefer to let ingredients shine in their own right. For example, if I need fresh apricots and it’s the middle of December, then I resign to the fact that this will just have to wait, instead of using frozen fruits.” We asked him about his go-to pick-me-up and turns out, this chocolatier is just like the rest of us. He replies, “Chocolate chip cookies. I’m only human, aren’t I?”