Most people usually associate Belgium with an amazing array of excellent beers and world-renowned chocolate. Not the most evident of combinations but they do go well together. Following in the footsteps of the renowned cheesemongers' Van Tricht, the young chocolate maker Jitsk Heyninck recently moved into the buildings of the De Koninck city brewery.
The eye-catching feature in this sleek shop – in which the original industrial vaulted ceilings and lighting have been preserved – has to be the floor to ceiling glass wall behind the wooden sales counter. From here you can peek into the workshop and the playground of Jitsk Heyninck, a 25-year old master chocolate maker.
Learn young, remember forever
Jitsk has had a pretty stellar career to date. He was educated in Antwerp at the PIVA catering school, followed by work placements at Burie chocolate makers and the Michelin-starred restaurant 't Zilte. In 2009, when he was 18 years old, Jitsk was the youngest chocolate maker to participate in the prestigious world expo in Shanghai. Since then he travelled the world on several occasions on behalf of an Antwerp-based company called Chocolate World, sharing his passion for chocolate and the craftsmanship which he would like to see applied.
A passion for the product
Jitsk is a strong believer in quality and flavour. That is why he only wants to use the best ingredients, which he sources from suppliers that are just as passionate about their products as he is. The coffee he uses for his chocolates comes from the popular Antwerp-based coffee brand Caffénation. You can taste how passionate he is about chocolate when you sample the wide range of products available in the shop, which includes chocolates and tablets, mellowcakes, macarons, ince-creams... If you have a sweet tooth or are a chocoholic, then this is definitely the place for you.
The chef behind the shop counter
Whether Jitsk and his colleagues are busy in the workshop tempering chocolate, roasting nuts or making marzipan, you can always count on their full attention when you enter the shop. They purposefully chose not to have a full-time salesperson behind a counter. Because let's face it, only the “chef” himself can deliver the best sales pitch. In a way their approach is comparable to that of many trendy restaurants, where the chef comes to present his dish at your table. Which is always a pleasant experience!
Currently Jitsk's excellent product range does not include beer chocolates. They may be added in the future, but only on condition that the taste of both the beer and the chocolate is respected or enhanced. We understood why they find this so important when we opened our box of chocolates at home. Every one of them packed a flavour punch, and had us salivating for more.
De Koninck city brewery