Melissa Coppel

When Melissa Coppel, a partner at Jean-Marie Auboine in Las Vegas, NV, was asked what her favorite item in any part of the shop was—from ingredients to equipment to packaging—she immediately grabbed Chocolate. A Columbian native who trained in classic French pastry and chocolate techniques, her favorite book is by a Spanish chocolatier. Talk about international influences.

ACD: When did you first discover this book?
Melissa Coppel: The book is Chocolate by Ramon Morato. He is a wonderful Spanish pastry chef and chocolatier. Back when I lived in Colombia I used to watch his show on the channel. I still have this picture in my head of me going “Wahhoo!” with every creation he used to make. I have been following him and his work for at least 12 years now. When this book was first released about five years ago, I purchased it immediately.
Why is this book so special and important to you? What does it teach or explain that others don’t?
Books are usually about recipes—this one is not. Of course it is full of stunning pictures and has great recipes, but what the author wants is for you to fully understand chocolate and to develop a relationship of respect and sensibility with the matter. It’s a very technical book for curious people like me, and I enjoyed every bit of it.
What was the biggest take-away you got from the book upon first reading?
I love his style—simple, clean, modern. I also loved his flavor combinations. They are creative, but not complicated.
How do you relate to this book differently now, as you’re further along in your career, than you did when you first read it? Why does it continue to be important to you?
It inspired me when I first read it, and it still does. When something is great, it will always be. It never gets old.
Anything else you’d like to share about this book?
Shortly after the book was first published, Ramon Morato was scheduled to teach a class at The Chocolate Academy in Chicago. I wanted to go so badly, but I had a four-month-old daughter at home, so I couldn’t. My good friend did go to the class, and she told him how much I wanted to be there. He wrote a very sweet note that I still keep inside my book. A year later he came back to Chicago, and I was finally able to take his class. It was an amazing experience. I was able to tell him how much I admire him … and now we are friends!