Everyone’s favorite chocolatier, Jacques Torres, is opening up his latest factory right here in the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.
Torres, who was born in Algeria and raised in southern France, opened up his first factory in DUMBO in 2000, back when he “had no idea what DUMBO was.
“It’s a good story for anyone who has a dream to start a business. Believe in yourself, don’t be afraid to work hard and you will do well if you do those things, guaranteed,” Torres said to a crowd of nearly 100 who gathered at Brooklyn Eats on June 26 to hear him give an interactive chat.
Torres said that he worked for three months building the facility himself.
“My dad was a carpenter…10 months later we opened the store,” he explained, adding that the space was “raw with no paint on the wall.”
Torres said that just after its opening, customers were lining up in front of the store to get their hands on his delicious chocolate.
“It was amazing to me. They thanked us for opening and we thanked them for coming,” he said.
Three years later, Torres ran out of space and decided to open a bigger factory in Lower Manhattan at Hudson and King Streets. Today, there are five locations, including the Chelsea Market and the Upper West Side. The Sunset Park facility is slated to open in September.
“Lately, in order for us to keep the customer base that we have and stay competitive, we have to manufacture products outside of Manhattan and in a space bigger than the one in DUMBO,” Torres explained. “We found a place in the Brooklyn Army Terminal…and were offered a lot of incentives to stay in Brooklyn.”
The factory is 35 percent complete.
“Hopefully, we will have the most advanced, beautiful chocolate manufacturer in New York,” Torres said. “Brooklyn is a completely different animal…so energetic. It’s definitely a different place and a better place.”
Torres said that the factory will be accessible to the community as a whole.
“We plan to rent two buses on Saturdays to show people the location. We put in big windows to show the customers and those who are interested to see how chocolate is made…all the way from the plant to the box,” Torres explained.
As an added treat, Torres shared what he thinks defines good chocolate.
“Great chocolate is chocolate without too much sugar, which goes between the flavor and you. It goes over the flavor and masks it,” Torres explained. “Sugary chocolate…is bad chocolate.”
Torres said that good chocolate is made with the best quality of cocoa. “Of course it’s going to cost more money,” he said.
He concluded with some simple advice.
“Anything is possible. I came to the U.S. with two suitcases and $1,000. I am telling you,” Torres said. “I tell people I am French – you can hear my accent – but I really am from Brooklyn.”