Deniz Karaca has certainly made his mark on the global chocolate and patisserie scene. As well as winning the inaugural Savour Patissier of the Year in 2016, Deniz was ranked among the top 3 in the World Chocolate Masters 2013. You may recognise him from MasterChef Australia, where he presented his notoriously complex yet spectacular dessert from the Masters, ‘Passion for Caramel’. Now, Deniz has combined his passion for wine and chocolate in his latest venture, Cuvée Chocolate, which produces artisan Australian-made chocolate to complement an array of wines. Deniz was recently filming two videos for Savour Online Classes so we decided to have a quick catch up!
When and how did you get into chocolate and patisserie?
When I was 16 I got an apprenticeship in the wonderful Cron & Lanz pastry shop in Göttingen, Germany. This sparked my interest in patisserie and chocolate, and from there, I went on to work in various areas of the industry such as hotels and cruise ships before relocating to Australia.
You won the very first Savour Patissier of the Year competition, what made you enter?
I loved the idea of competing against such a high calibre of Australian and international pastry chefs. Savour Patissier of the Year was in its first year when I entered, which made it even more thrilling as no one knew a concept like it before.
Your infamous ‘Passion for Caramel Tart’ from MasterChef (and Savour Online Classes) has so many components and uses of caramel. How did you come up with such a complex recipe?
I was visiting my wife’s aunt in Sydney and she made us a banoffee pie for dessert. I had never tasted a banoffee pie before and I absolutely loved it! I was mesmerised by the flavours. My brain then went into creative mode and I began playing with new ideas and elements. That is where my Passion for Caramel Tart stems from – a simple banoffee!
Is that the most difficult thing you’ve made?
No, surprisingly! I presented it on MasterChef and all the contestants were able to put it together so it’s not as challenging as it sounds. Crème Brulee on the other hand is something that sounds so simple, but if it’s not 100% perfect you cannot serve it, so I’d say crème brulee is difficult to nail.
Tell us about Cuvée (pronounced que – vay).
Since living in Australia, I have discovered a new-found love for wine! A few years ago, my wife and I were at a winery for a tasting and they offered us chocolate to try with the wine. As it is my forte, I thought I would give it a go, but even with alcohol in my system the chocolate did not taste good. All my best ideas come together when I’ve had a bit to drink, so on the journey back from the tasting, I came up with the idea to create chocolate to complement wines. It took 7 months from generating the idea to putting it into action and creating the first chocolate bar.
What’s the future for Cuvée?
At present, we use a blend of cocoa beans when creating our couverture. I have a farm where I breed cattle, so my dream is to become as self-sustainable as possible. I aim to use as many beans from source and create as much chocolate from scratch as I possibly can.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
The World Chocolate Masters was amazing. It was such a challenge to really push myself and I was mentored by the wonderful Kirsten Tibballs and Paul Kennedy. All in all, it was a rewarding experience in so many ways.
Passion for Caramel Tart and Eggcelence are now available on Savour Online Classes!