Q+A: Amy Robinson, Jacques Torres
Tell us a bit about Jacques Torres and this store!
We opened our very first chocolate factory right here in DUMBO seventeen years ago. At the time, we were the only chocolate factory in Brooklyn. Jacques (Torres) is originally from Paris; after working with the Ritz Carlton and Le Cirque, he decided to open his own chocolate factory, and found a spot in this neighborhood. We used to have a little store and everything else was factory space. A year and a half ago, we we moved our factory to the Army Terminal and took the opportunity to expand the store. We serve ice cream, bonbons, speciality items for the holidays, anything you can cover in chocolate. We don’t use any preservatives, everything is completely hand made— and we are still 100% made in Brooklyn! Our ice cream we make our own base from scratch too. Right now, we are looking into potentially adding food service and cocktails as well. 17 years and we are still growing with the neighborhood.
Why did you decide to join Jacques Torres?
I started at Jacques Torres about two months ago. I am the Executive General Manager that oversees all 8 locations in NYC. I worked in the restaurant business all through college, and went into retail for a bit at Apple, but I missed the passionate energy and the creativity of the restaurant business. I actually ate at Le Cirque in the early 90’s, and the dessert was one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve ever had. It was the first time I had anything with spun sugar, and it was as beautiful as it was delicious. So all these years later when I had the opportunity come up to work for the man that gave me that memorable dining experience, I jumped on it.
Lovely dessert and a nice atmosphere is what we are really creating now... People tell me they’ve been coming here for 10 years, 15 years; we have a such great opportunity to be part of people’s lives.
Amy Robinson, Executive General Manager at Jacques Torres
How has the store changed in the past few years, and what is coming up?
The neighborhood has grown in such a fantastic way! We used to be an attraction as a factory, but now we are in such a thriving neighborhood that we are looking to contribute more to the neighborhood. One thing is to just have a nice place to sit— wifi, relax, and have a hot chocolate— but we are looking to have many more offerings by the fall. We are thinking about expanding our menu, and we just started expanding our pastry programs. Lovely dessert and a nice atmosphere is what we are really creating now. There are families that come here every Sunday. People tell me they’ve been coming here for 10 years, 15 years; we have a such great opportunity to be part of people’s lives, that now we really want to see how much more we can do.
What are the most popular sweets? Any great desserts for the summer?
The Bonbons! No matter what else we do— it will always be the bonbons. Some people come in to get just one bonbon because they can’t trust themselves. We change the flavors around, but there are some flavors that have a huge fanbase and we would get in huge trouble if we changed those. We have chocolate molds for the holidays as well; bunnies, eggs, and roosters for Easter, and we change them up throughout the year. They are all hand made, hand painted with melted chocolate. For the summer, I love the Wicked ice cream. It is the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. We also have sorbets made with all real ingredients, and frozen hot chocolate so people can still enjoy hot chocolate in the summer time!
What is your favorite place in DUMBO?
Here. It’s hard to beat chocolate. There are so many places I like about the neighborhood. I had a great slice of pizza at Juliana’s the other day, I bought my shirt at Brooklyn Industries; I feel like I discover a place everyday. I took the 2 train instead of the F train one time and there’s a whole new world around there too. It’s just a great blend of places that’s been here forever and some brand new. They all really fit in with the culture and energy of this area.