Chef Thomas Keller's New Chocolate is Good For You

Head chocolatier for new K+M Extravirgin Chocolate talks about the virtues of chocolate
Chi Bui, Head Chocolatier K+M Extravirgin Chocolate
Shaena Engle

Chi Bui, Head Chocolatier K+M Extravirgin Chocolate

Chef Chi Bui is small in size but her palette is expansive. She serves as head chocolatier for Chef Thomas Keller and olive oil manufacturer Armando Manni’s K+M Extravirgin Chocolate.

Bui was born and spent her early childhood in Vietnam before moving to Philadelphia. “I remember we always had a lot of food in our house no matter where we lived,” said Bui.

She worked at the United Nations helping developing countries get access to the internet until the late 1990’s when she took a decade off to raise her family. As a stay at home mom, her love of cooking was re-awakened and she decided to go to the Culinary Institute of Education to study pastry and culinary management. “I always loved working with chocolate,” said Bui. After graduation, Bui worked at many of the most prestigious kitchens in New York including restaurants Le Bernardin, Union Square Café, Gotham Bar and Grill and Daniel.

Bui also worked with neurologist chef Miguel Sanchez Romera at Romera restaurant on a ground breaking bean to bar chocolate program and ran a chocolate factory in Brooklyn before meeting French Laundry Executive Pastry Chef Elwyn Bolyes. Bui learned about the new chocolate line Keller and Manni were working on producing, intensifying the health benefits by retaining the antioxidants of the cocoa beans and pairing it with olive oil and she knew she wanted to be a part of the process.

Now she travels all over the world to source beans, visit growers and connect with local partners.

Before agreeing to work with a grower, the cocoa beans are sent to Florence, Italy and tested for their antioxidant and volatile compound potential. “We only use beans that are farmed sustainably. Our production methodology allows for the ultimate expression of the flavor of the cocoa beans while preserving their natural antioxidants,” said Bui. Organic Manni extra virgin olive oil is infused into the bars, giving them a further boost of antioxidant and a unique smooth texture.

All chocolate bars are made in small batches and wrapped in a special film that prevents oxygen from reaching the chocolate.

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K+M Extravirgin Chocolate produce four dark bars including their bold dark Nicaragua with malt, black currant and floral notes; their smooth dark Ecuador with notes of mango, spice and sweet nectar; the bright dark Madagascar with notes of grapefruit, caramel and green olive and the velvety dark Peru with notes of orange blossom and quince. Their milk chocolate varieties include the complex milk Nicaragua with flavors of rich cream and black currants and milk Ecuador with notes of caramel, butterscotch, fruit and spice.  They also produce two bars in the middle flavor profile of milk and dark, their dark milk Nicaragua with notes of black currant and malt and their dark milk Ecuador with flavors of mango and molasses. Additionally, they also produce a dark peppermint and milk winter spice bar. All K+M Extravirgin Chocolate bars are available at kellermannichcolate.com.