Chocolate Sculptor Håkan Mårtensson Talks Inspiration And Tolkien At New York Chocolate Show

16 Nov

Chocolate Sculptor Håkan MårtenssonI was lucky enough to spend my Saturday at the New York Chocolate Show, running from November 10-13 at the Metropolitan Pavillion. You can check out Ology’s photo diary or the chocolate fashions featured at the event, but I think the highlight of my visit was the work of chocolate sculptor and chef Håkan Mårtensson. Håkan has worked as a pastry chef under Stefan Johnson-Petersén, apprenticed at the Nordiska Kompaniet bakery, and currently serves as the executive pastry chef and chocolatier at FIKA Espresso Bar in New York. He has also been a member of the Swedish Culinary Team, where he won an individual showpiece gold medal for chocolate sculpturing. Håkan took some time out from the festival to talk with me about his inspiration, culinary competitions, and what he wants to sculpt next.

Håkan loved working with food even as a child, but he came to chocolate scultping later in his career. After graduating from culinary school and working for a few years as a pastry chef, Håkan saw his mentor working on a sculpture using chocolate and was absolutely amazed. “When I saw him sculpting, I said, ‘Wow, I have to try this,'” Håkan explained. “The first thing I ever made was a dragon, and I was hooked. I haven’t made another dragon until now,” he added, gesturing to the giant dragon carving at the front of his booth.

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Håkan’s skill at chocolate carving would lead him to the Swedish Culinary Team and various international competitions. “It’s like being on a soccer team or any sports team. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also work, work, work,” Håkan recalled. The Team spent it’s days practicing, learning new techniques, and trying out potential designs for competitions. “When you’re scultping for a competition, you can’t do an evil clown,” chuckled Håkan, pointing to the sinister chocolate clown on the shelf behind us. “You have to do something big and flashy, like ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen.'”

Most of Håkan’s work tends to be more like the clown than ABBA, though. Whether it’s a sneering Gollum or the wolf eating Red Riding Hood​, his pieces draw heavily on fantasy and horror themes with a little twinge of morbid humor. Since moving to New York, he’s also started carving a lot of skulls. “Skulls are everywhere in New York,” Håkan said. “You go down the street, and you see one on someone’s shirt, one on a sign, one in some graffiti on a wall. All of that goes into my inspiration.” He also draws heavily on movies and books, especially J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit​. Since Peter Jackson cast Swede Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn, Håkan can’t wait to get some movie stills of the skin-changer and create a chocolate homage.

Article re-posted by Spencer Samaroo, Managing Director, Moo-Lolly-Bar
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