Chocolate Purveyors 4- Kjartan Gíslason

Chocolate Purveyors is a blog series where we connect and discuss everything chocolate with both makers and enthusiasts. This discussion is with Kjartan Gíslason from OmNom Chocolate Reykjavík.

OmNom is a small-batch, craft chocolate maker based in Reykjavík, Iceland. The company started as an experiment to see if the two friends could master how to make chocolate. From the start, they received positive tasting feedback. After receiving positive feedback, they set up a small chocolate-making lab inside a converted gas station and launched. OmNom's mission is to make the best chocolate possible using the highest quality of ingredients.

OmNom Chocolate

Photo Credit: OmNom Chocolate

Do you remember your first experience with real chocolate? What was it? 

Yes, it was maybe 10 years ago, I had lunch in New York at Per Se, where they were serving (one of many desserts) a chocolate dessert made with Mast Brothers Chocolate. The waiter told me the story of them and it caught my attention. I was more interested in the method in the first rather than the quality. It just blew my mind that chocolate making could be done on a micro-level, compared to a mass production 

What gave you the urge to start experimenting with chocolate?

So using my background as a chef I started reading everything I could find about chocolate making and researching what methods and machinery were needed. I wasn't thinking about starting my own company, it was more just a thirst for the knowledge and of course, I love chocolate, and the thought of being able to make your own blends felt like having some kind of Jedi power :).

If you weren’t making chocolate what would you be doing?

I would probably be cooking or baking somewhere. I was always on the trajectory of opening my own business, whether it would've been a restaurant, pastry shop or a bakery. Food is my passion, I can't really see myself doing anything not connected with it.

OmNom Chocolate Store
Photo Credit: OmNom Chocolate

For a person trying an OmNom bar for the first time, which bar would you recommend?

Ahh, good question. It really depends on the person. If you've never tried craft chocolate before, then any one of the single-origin bars always leave a lasting impression.  But bars like Lakkrís + Sea Salt (Liquorice) and Black n´Burnt Barley are defiantly a conversation starter.

Besides the cacao selection, how do you decide where to source ingredients for a chocolate bar?

Flavor, the flavor of course. But then the human connection comes in play. Good relationships and sustainable farming are important for us. When all these things come together, it's magic.

OmNom Chocolate Kitchen
Photo Credit: OmNom Chocolate

What does the Wolf logo represent for OmNom?

It's not for me to say ;). We have had an overwhelming reaction to our packaging design and a lot of people have been asking if it has any meaning. Truth be told, we never put any specific meaning into it, we just wanted something that was colorful, with a slight edge. But we are working on some new ideas for the future of the brand and maybe then it will answer your question.

Besides OmNom, what chocolate makers can be found in your chocolate stash? 

Well, interesting enough I don't have a stash, chocolate never lasts for too long if I have a bar around. Usually, after these chocolate trade shows, we will have an overwhelmingly amount of chocolate from different producers. I have many favorite bars from different producers. Some of my favorites are Dick Taylor, Pump Street, Fruition , and Dandelion to name a few. I'm a big fan of inclusion bars and flavored ones and one of my favorite producers now is Fossa Chocolate, I really like their style.

A winemaker works with one terroir, in crafting chocolate you have the choice of working with multiple regions. What is your process of selecting which region to craft with?

As mentioned above, I'm really passionate about adding new flavor and inclusions to chocolate. There are endless possibilities to complement chocolate with other ingredients.

If you could only eat one chocolate bar for the rest of your life, what bar would it be?

Oh my, that's possibly the hardest question. But I'm gonna go with some kind of dark milk chocolate, possibly with hazelnuts and some-kind a fruit and raisins. But the thought of just eating one type chocolate bar for the rest of my life sounds really dark and hopefully, I will never have to live in a world like that :).

What does the future hold for OmNom? 

Keep exploring new flavors and we have been working on so many projects now for the future, that will be coming out soon. But also we are adding new machinery for packaging and production that will help immensely to continue growing.

OmNom Chocolate

Photo Credit: OmNom Chocolate

We want to thank Kjartan Gíslason for participating and the entire OmNom Chocolate Reykjavík team for making this work.

You can view the entire OmNom collection at our online store.

To get started with craft chocolate, start with our Kekao Box. We search the world for the finest chocolate bars and bring them right to your doorstep monthly. From rich dark Peruvian chocolate bars to new start-up chocolate bars on the come-up, you never know what you'll get inside the box! Each month we will curate 4 to 5 premium specialty crafted chocolate bars. 

If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate store.

If you have any questions regarding this blog, our Kekao Box, or premium specialty crafted chocolate bars, feel free to contact us! Keep up with us by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.