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.

Shopping at a chocolate boutique, trying to find new treats for the house, I saw this colorful wolf staring at me. I cautiously approached it and to my relief, it was a chocolate bar. I picked the bar off the shelf and the feel of the packaging caught my attention right away, it felt super smooth like it belonged in my hand. The taste definitely didn't disappoint either. I became an OmNom fan.

Fast forward to our 2019 August Kekao craft chocolate subscription box and we had the opportunity to feature OmNoms Peru Gran Nativo Blanco 100%. I reached out to OmNom to be part of this blog series, I wanted us all to find out more about the magical wolf chocolate from Iceland. Here is our interview with co-founder Kjartan Gíslason.

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

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.

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.

OmNom Chocolate Kitchen

Besides OmNom, what chocolate makers can be found in your personal 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.

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.

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 :).

OmNom Chocolate

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

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