(This article appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)
Although children often studiously avoid following in their parents footsteps in terms of career choice, it is not completely surprising that Nicoll Notter followed in his, given that the parents in question are Susan and Ewald Notter. He says proudly, “There’s no way that I could be where I am without their guidance and help along the way. I am extremely grateful to them. They continue to influence my career in meaningful ways.”
Before assuming the position as the head chef at the Barry Callebaut Academy, Nicoll worked as pastry chef in restaurants in NYC (most recently at Frevo, a tasting menu only by reservations place) and knows first-hand the challenges of being a pastry chef, often siloed away from other pastry chefs. “My goal at the school is to make chefs’ lives easier and inspire them to learn new things, work with new products, and find camaraderie among their peers in the field.”
Having very European parents who knew the rigors of apprenticeships from a young age, Nicoll was asked when he was a mere teen about his plans for the rest of his life. “Back then, I had no idea what I would do, but taking a class at my father’s school in Florida (since relocated to the Seattle area), I was hooked, falling in love with the craft.” He hasn’t look back since.
In a role where he wears the hat of coordinating guest teachers and those local to the New York area, he says, “I like being able to give local chefs some visibility, giving them an outlet to be seen by other chefs outside of their work environments. It’s very valuable to see other chefs in action, and our classes, which include an array of international pastry chefs as well, are designed to do just that.”
Notter develops curriculum, leads demos, and solidifies customer relationships for the chocolate company and is keenly aware of the shortage of quality people to work in the field. “I really don’t know the solution to this problem, but at the Academy, we are providing all the training one would need to enter the field, via online classes on demand and through in person multiple day sessions limited to between eight and 16 people, with one-off demos with an audience of 40 to 50 people in attendance.”
When asked whether he sees the need to follow the trends, he answers, “I like to do what is best and respond to market demands in terms of topics covered at the Academy. “Our goal is to celebrate craftsmanship and empower artisans and chefs with real solutions.”
Pebbles by Nicoll Notter
Since the mold of this particular bonbon is so shallow, I fill the cavity with both recipes below and then glue two sides together to make a pebble shape. Together, the gianduja and caramel lend an interesting texture and mouthfeel. The flavors of roasted almonds, milk chocolate, and tonka all blend together nicely, yet distinctly.
Yield: 2 kg
- 200 g heavy cream
- 20 g tonka beans, micro-planed to a powder
- In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil and add tonka powder. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to infuse for 5 minutes.
- Strain out tonka and add enough cream to rescale to 200 g.
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 5 g salt
- 220 g granulated sugar
- 55 g glucose
- 200 g Tonka Cream (above)
- In saucepan, combine Tonka Cream with butter and salt and bring to a boil.
- Make a caramel with the sugar and glucose. Deglaze with the Tonka Cream mixture. Cool down and emulsify.
- 300 g almonds
- 200 g confectioners’ sugar
- 2 g salt
- 750 g Cacao Barry 41% Alunga milk chocolate
- Roast the almonds at 325˚F (163˚C).
- Place almonds in Robot Coupe with confectioners’ sugar and salt and process to a paste. Add chocolate and process until homogenous.
- Transfer to a marble top and table until mixture cools to 79˚F (26˚C).
- Cacao Barry 41% Alunga milk chocolate
- Cast the molds with milk chocolate.
- Make the caramel first, so it has time to cool down, then make the gianduja. Pipe the gianduja into the molds. Before the gianduja sets, pipe the caramel into the mass. Refrigerate until the gianduja is set.