Photographs: Julie Webel
Above: Chef François Kwaku-Dongo presenting samples from his chocolate menu
We can’t think of many couples who wouldn’t want to dig into a chocolate soufflé on Valentine’s Day. Chef François Kwaku-Dongo, who last fall brought his talents and trusty kitchen staff to the storied Roger Sherman Inn in New Canaan, has just the thing for them. Two things, in fact: a milk chocolate soufflé and a dark chocolate soufflé, both featuring chocolate from his company, The Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company.
Kwaku-Dongo, who last served as executive chef at L’Escale and J’House’s Eleven 14 Kitchen in Greenwich, was born in Ghana and raised in West Africa’s Ivory Coast. He grew up on his grandfather’s cocoa farm, where he and the other kids picked the beans, tossed them in a burlap sack and sent the sacks overseas to places like Switzerland and Belgium to be processed. They used the money to pay for their school uniforms.But it wasn’t until Kwaku-Dongo worked at the famous Spago in Beverly Hills that he discovered those beans were transformed into chocolate.
Years passed. He partnered with an American in Ghana who built a chocolate factory where the beans are picked. “Some beans spend two or three months on a ship before they are processed. By then, the magic of the beans is gone,” the chef says. “My chocolate, when you taste it, you taste the earth.”
A special Chocolate Menu for Valentine’s Day—or any time your sweet tooth craves
CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉS with Omanhene milk 48 percent, and dark 80 percent chocolate, topped with Grand Marnier vanilla sauce
CAFÉ AND CACAO GANACHE TRUFFLES with 80 percent couverture chocolate, red chili pepper and honey
DACQUOISE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE with 80 percent couverture chocolate, praline, crispy crepes and chocolate ganache
MIGNARDISE AND GOURMANDISE MACARONS, homemade caramel candy, coated almond
THE ROGER SHERMAN INN CHOCOLATE SAMPLER, with cacao, s’mores, red velvet beet cake, peanut butter and jelly mousse, panna cotta-cocoa nib
“CLEOPATRA” HOT CHOCOLATE, with 80 percent couverture chocolate, red chili pepper and honey