Miquel Coulibaly , experimental chocolatier with his own brand, Muremino, tries to recreate the chocolate in a way that is personal and intuitive. He experiments, improvises and creates each piece from pure and natural products, avoiding sugar, and trying to emphasize the health benefits of the chocolate.
Senegalese and Spanish, he was 13 when he first developed curiosity for the world of pastry and started giving some of his creations to his neighbors. After 15 years in different fields of gastronomy , one day he began to dive into the world of chocolate.
How did you first get into cooking?
I started painting very young . My dream was to be a painter but there was a time when I plateaued because I was having trouble earning financial compensation for my work. It was during a summer I spent working in Ibiza . There came the opportunity to start working in a kitchen and I didn’t think twice. As a child I loved to try things and my mother shared her recipes with me. So I thought I could cook like I paint, with the same essence and energy. I create personal things I like, without imitating . I want to food to be suggestive of myself.
Where did you learn to cook?
In war, that is, in various kitchens, some only let me work for a few weeks. I have been fortunate to have a lot of freedom in the kitchens I’ve worked in. So I could learn about myself and my abilities.
And how did you steer your way into the world of chocolate?
It happened quite naturally. I started toying with chocolate pastries at night while working as a baker in Solsona . During the day I had trouble sleeping and spent my time thinking of possible options and ways to work the chocolates . I asked the owner to teach me how to make chocolate and he told me: ” When you learn to do it , you will walk away from here after three days .” And indeed, four months later I left, due to my fascination for the chocolate.
Especially in chocolates…
In chocolates I saw a path to explore . I wanted to introduce medicinal plants and trade sugar for healthy ingredients. So I created Muremino , out of my love for experimental chocolates . At the time, I was with a girl who was a biologist and she began to experiment with new formulas for the chocolate.
What did you see in the chocolate that you did not see in other ingredients?
I saw an opportunity in the chocolate , something that had not been tapped. The kitchen has undergone changes over the years, but not the pastries. The great bakers are making the same pastry cream, with other finishes, but the recipes remain the same .
Usually, the rules of the pastry world are very strict and concise. How do you go about improvising?
Sometimes the restaurants that I make chocolates truffles for ask me to try to make the same recipe . Sometimes they even get angry because I don’t repeat the recipes. I try to make the same recipe but I also like to make various different textures. Some things I would try to create in a certain order but I prefer the ephemeral and experimental concept-level textures, flavors, that depend on mood of the person who is helping me at the time. I like that my work is never really complete because I always want to do better.
What would you like to experiment with more?
I would like to experiment more with chemistry. I would like, through chocolate, to make changes in the body. From developing a chocolate that makes you stronger or another that makes you sleep better , or one that may possibly induce dreams or memories.
You organize dinners at home, in a beautiful loft, where you invite the diner to participate in your game of improvisation. Its more than a simple dinner, it is almost an act of communication between you, your kitchen and the guest.
I like playing with the menus, to be bold , to try new things and try to make others do the same. I like people to be receptive and willing to experiment.
I don’t repeat dishes in any of my dinners, it’s a game. I like to convey that image in every part of my house: light, sound, and above all, the food and chocolate is a gift.
Text: Alba Yáñez
Photos: Bea Janer.
Translation: Brett Piron