` 'Espérantine' Olive Oil Chocolates: Original and Full of Flavor

Food & Cooking

'Espérantine' Olive Oil Chocolates: Original and Full of Flavor

Feb. 17, 2014
By Alice Alech

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Mar­seille, France’s Sec­ond City, is home to L’E­spéran­tine de Mar­seille, a com­pany that makes and sells arti­sanal gourmet choco­lates with olive oil.

These exclu­sive choco­lates, a sub­tle blend of high-qual­ity cocoa, orange peel, almonds and mint, are blended with organic olive oil. Espéran­tine choco­lates have no added but­ter, addi­tives and cream. The Espéran­tine choco­late is shaped like an olive leaf.

Choco­latier Francesco Mar­torana cre­ated and launched Espéran­tine choco­lates for the 2,600-year cel­e­bra­tion of Mar­seille in 1999. One year later it was awarded the pres­ti­gious Cor­don Bleu award for best con­fec­tionery of the year’ in Paris. Espéran­tine choco­lates con­tain­ing 70 per­cent pure cocoa, fla­vors of the Mediter­ranean and a hint of mint, are rec­og­nized for their high qual­ity, nutri­tion and superb taste.

L’Espérantine comes from the French word Espérance (mean­ing hope”), an appro­pri­ate name for these delights. The olive branch is rec­og­nized world­wide as a uni­ver­sal sym­bol of peace, nobil­ity and vic­tory.

Martorana’s love for olive oil started as a child grow­ing up with his Sicil­ian par­ents among olive trees and olive oil. Today he is an advo­cate for the Mediter­ranean diet and his con­fec­tions are strongly iden­ti­fied with Mar­seille, one of the world’s great­est port cities.

On arriv­ing in Mar­seille, the gourmet entre­pre­neur said he was keen to unite his three pas­sions — nutri­tion, cul­ture and fla­vor.

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I wanted to cre­ate a spe­cialty with good vis­i­bil­ity. Gas­tron­omy has an impor­tant role in France. I wanted to make an emblem­atic image of the Mediter­ranean and Mar­seille, which would incor­po­rate Mediter­ranean fla­vors; olive oil seemed an obvi­ous choice,” Mar­torana said. Mar­ry­ing the uni­ver­sally accepted healthy olive oil with prod­ucts such as oranges and espe­cially choco­late seemed right, and had not been done before.”

L’Espérantine de Mar­seille choco­lates are beau­ti­fully pre­sented in eye catch­ing boxes, vary­ing in sizes and per­fect for gift-giv­ing. They are not sold in super­mar­kets, only in three ded­i­cated shops in Mar­seille and Paris, online and at food fairs.

Mar­torana said he uses a direct dis­tri­b­u­tion approach” to pro­mote and sell his prod­uct. The Espéran­tine sales team is present at major food and gas­tron­omy fairs in France giv­ing first hand infor­ma­tion, offer­ing sam­ples, col­lect­ing reviews and sell­ing.

It’s impor­tant for me to con­trol every­thing,” Mar­torana explained. I want my prod­uct to be well rep­re­sented, so I con­trol every­thing from A to Z. My sales team gives solid, first-hand infor­ma­tion, there’s no mid­dle man, and we have direct con­tact with the con­sumer.”

Espérantine’s sales man­ager Melissa Ingre­tolli has been at Espéran­tine for 10 years and said she enjoys lead­ing her team through­out France at events such as the pres­ti­gious Inter­na­tional Gas­tron­omy Fes­ti­val. Attended by lead­ing Miche­lin starred chefs, vis­i­tors from some 28 coun­tries and jour­nal­ists from all around the world, this three-day event draws gourmets to the Mediter­ranean vil­lage of Mou­g­ins every year.

Melissa Ingre­tolli (right) with renowned Provençal chef Gui Gedda

She enthused, I could hap­pily con­sider stay­ing in the com­pany for the rest of my life. We are a pretty young team and are grow­ing with our busi­ness. I can­not imag­ine I could ever be tired of cre­at­ing, dis­trib­ut­ing and, espe­cially, eat­ing choco­late!”

With the healthy choco­late sec­tor gain­ing pub­lic inter­est, this upmar­ket choco­late man­u­fac­turer with such orig­i­nal fla­vors is being approached by for­eign com­pa­nies in Europe, the U.S and else­where.

Inter­est­ingly though, one of the first coun­tries that showed inter­est in Espéran­tine choco­lates was Rus­sia. Mar­torana recently received an offer from Tunisia and Morocco to make Espéran­tine choco­lates there. After all, they pro­duce good olive oil, but I’m not yet quite sure of what I want to do,” he said.

L’Espérantine and its staff of thirty will be mov­ing to new premises later this year, just oppo­site MuCEM — the new museum pur­posely built to cel­e­brate Mar­seille as the Euro­pean cap­i­tal of cul­ture.” With this new lab­o­ra­tory the com­pany will strive to be even more selec­tive with sup­pli­ers and selec­tions of raw mate­ri­als, hop­ing even­tu­ally to turn towards organic pro­duc­tion.

Could Espéran­tine choco­lates be made any­where else in France?

Francesco Mar­torana said: Mar­seille is the cap­i­tal of the Mediter­ranean, the seat of Provence. I wanted to con­tribute to a pos­i­tive vis­i­bil­ity in the region. We’re mov­ing into our 14th year and as a team we are enjoy­ing each sec­ond of this pas­sion­ate adven­ture.”

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