of the things that chefs are frequently asked by corporate representatives and
guests alike is whether they have inspected their suppliers’ facilities. Their
food may be creative and delicious, the presentation amazing, but in this age of
health consciousness, people want to know if it’s also healthy. So when I had
the opportunity to attend a cooking demonstration and tour the newly opened
Schmidt Co., Ltd., I was delighted to join the chefs and bakers of Chiang Mai.
Schmidt advertises “semi-manufactured food”, and sells
forty bread products and over a hundred products for pastries and cakes. But
don’t think that’s the extent of their sales. They also have a full line of
pastry supplies and utensils, knives, and supplies for big parties such as
wedding cake stands. And while they are primarily suppliers to commercial
customers, they also stock a line of products in quantities suitable for the
home baker. That decision was courtesy of their own Chef Guido, who apparently
recognized that there’s a little bit of chef inside every good home baker.
The Dining Out team was delighted to enter the storage area.
It’s air-conditioned, and thermo-regulators that are strategically located
around the room regulate the temperature. That means that the products don’t
deteriorate in Thailand’s tropical heat. That also means that the finest of
chocolate can be purchased and stored there, chocolate from Switzerland and
Holland that looks so fresh and good that you want to dive right into it. Will
somebody please pass this information along to Hillary? I worry that
Mistersingha will never come through with chocolates, let alone champagne. But
please don’t tell her that we eagerly tasted the dark chocolate coins.
Heavenly. The temperature-controlled environment also allows the Schmidt staff
to purchase and store pecans from the U.S., dried fruits from Turkey and other
products from around the world that we rarely see in Chiang Mai. We loved the
vacuum packaging into which nuts and other products were sealed. We opened a
freezer and discovered box after box of frozen Rich’s brand whipped topping.
It’s not cream. In Chef Guido’s words, it’s “never seen a cow”, so
it’s perfect for those occasions when real cream cannot be used.
Bags of German specialty flours were stacked with small
translucent samples arranged for viewing. Fine flours, flours heavy in cereal,
many types of grains were all available.
Very importantly, though, the storage house is clean. It’s
so clean that you want to take off your shoes. It’s so clean that your mother
would approve. It’s so clean that no mouse would dare to enter, and it would
offend a cockroach to even hear about it. So we left with great reluctance, and
an appreciation of how careful the Schmidt folks are with food. Outside we
noticed that the truck used to deliver these products to your bakery, hotel or
resort kitchen is also refrigerated. We looked inside. It’s clean, too.
Thai Chef Tong had set up shop in the adjoining office to make chocolate
desserts. The beauty of his creations overwhelmed us. Dark and white chocolate
ribbons, butterflies and flowers were displayed on cakes that were arranged on a
table. An enormous, multi-layered wedding cake was there, too, garnished with
fresh fruit and an overlaid icing. Chef Tong worked with the chocolate like the
artist he is. He made it appear effortless to cut and twist the ribbons. But the
crowd was gathering outside for
the bread baking demonstration, so we moved into place there.
We learned that there are many professional chefs and bakers
who are eager to continue honing their skills. We learned that they focus on
natural products. The butter was real. The tomato flavor in the pain de mie
tomate came from tomatoes, not catsup. “We have no secrets from you, our
customers”, said the teaching chef. “The more you know the better your
products will be. You’ll sell more and we’ll sell more.” It was basic
business sense, but the aromas of many kinds of fresh-baked breads were
beginning to fill the air and we moved closer to the tasting area.
Schmidt Co., Ltd., Chiang Mai – Fang Highway, info
@choco-schmidt.com, www.choco-schmidt.com, 053-297-880. Phone for directions.