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AMEDEI, THE ITALIAN CHOCOLATE THAT SEDUCES THE WORLD
It's a very young company, but it's got big dreams. Amedei, started life in Pontedera, in the province of Pisa, in 1990. And it arrived with a big ambition, an almost unimaginable dream: to produce the best chocolate in the world by being involved in every step of its production. This was the novel idea of the brother and sister team of Cecilia and Alessio Tessieri, who named the company after their maternal grandmother, Vendica Amedei, and summed up their ambition in the slogan: "From bean to bar". We asked Cecilia Tessieri to go over the last 20 years of the history of their company, which now has a turnover of 4 million Euros, a quarter of which comes from overseas markets, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Korea, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Iceland, Holland, Poland, The Czech Republic, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The United States and Hungary.
Was it difficult to break into the sector of hand-made chocolate?
At the beginning we lacked "cocoa culture". After making initial contacts with certain companies involved in the confectionery sector, we embarked on a tour of the major European capitals and discovered an enogastronomic culture which was much more sophisticated than our own. When we returned to Italy, we set up a small workshop, just 45m², for the production of pralines.
So right from the start you were manufacturing yourselves the product that you wanted to make the best in the world?
At the beginning we were buying the chocolate from other people. But we immediately realized that our inability to control the quality of the raw material was stopping us from supplying the product that we aspired to. So, we had the idea of going to search out the best cocoa beans in the places where they are grown: from Madagascar to Venezuela, from Jamaica to Ecuador, and as far as the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Grenada. My brother Alessio took on the role of "scout", searching for new flavours around the world.
But surely it's not enough to choose the best quality cocoa. How important is the processing of the raw material?
Very. No, extremely. After a long period of training in France, Belgium and Germany I became a "maĂźtre chocolatier" (Master of Chocolate). My job is to enhance the flavour of the original cocoa and create a new magical taste by harmonizing and balancing the various ingredients.
When did you first attract recognition?
In 2005 and 2006 the Chocolate Academy of London conferred their Golden Award to our chocolate Chuao, the same for our Porcelana and our Toscano Black 70% in the dark chocolate category, and the Silver Award to Amedei 9, which is a blend from nine different plantations. In 2008 the Toscano Black 63% won the Oscar for the best chocolate.
But is this recognition by "institutions" matched by appreciation on the part of your customers?
Well, I can only say that recently the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the American actor, George Clooney expressly stated that Amedei chocolate is one of their favourite Italian products. For some time now our chocolate has been on sale in the very best food and wine shops, as well as being used by restaurants in grand hotels in Italy and abroad. For example, in the United States, some of the most famous New York restaurants such as Le Bernardin, the Cafe Gray and Craft, and the French Laundry in California, not to mention Michel Roux's Il Gavroche or Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, all offer recipes based on Amedei chocolate to their Ă©lite and discerning clientele.
To learn more about the company's export strategies and exclusive ways of selling their chocolate, let us turn to Alessio Tessieri and ask him to give us a snapshot of Amedei's profile on the world market.
Amedei products are on sale in more than 30 countries. Our first exports to many of these were as a result of spontaneous requests by customers who had learnt about our product. But this was in our "pioneering" phase. The situation is very different now and Amedei is valued all over the world for its quality, for its total control over the production process and for the very special flavour of its chocolate. This is why, over the course of time, we have selected distributors in all our markets who share our value of the brand and who can therefore distribute the product through channels which will convey all that to the customer. And it is thanks to this very careful distribution policy that Amedei is often chosen by great chefs and by top-class hotels who want to give added value to what they are creating or offering their clients. Indeed, Amedei chocolates are particularly valued as corporate gifts thanks to their very elegant packaging.