If there is someone making chocolate confections more creative, beautiful and delicious than Francisco Migoya is doing at his new Hudson Chocolates in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. I am unaware of it. I recently stopped there on my way down to NYC and was blown away by his work. I haven’t been so impressed with chocolate creativity since I first tasted Oriol Balaguer’s revolutionary chocolate bon bons with pop rocks about a decade ago. Migoya is making a wide range of chocolate confections unlike any I have experienced and making others on a level as high as I have encountered anywhere.
Migoya, the Mexican born, former Executive Pastry Chef of The French Laundry, Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery and current Professor at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. opened Hudson Chocolates on March 16th along with his wife, Kris Peterson Migoya. Most products are available via online ordering, but the workshop, located in an off-the-beaten-track section of Poughkeepsie, is open only on Saturdays from 1 to 6PM or by appointment. That I managed to see Chef Migoya the day I was there involved a bit of luck as he happened to stop in the workshop on his way to the airport. He was flying to Barcelona that evening to accept the medal of Master Artisan Pastry Chef from the Confectionary Guild of Barcelona.
A trip to the workshop is absolutely worth it. Aside from being able to see some of the production process and completed work, there are plenty of amazing samples to try as well as , of course, the ability to purchase directly the stock on hand. Migoya has several assistants helping him out at the workshop including Carolyn Ramirez, Julie Castelloe, Matt Siciliano and Doug Phillips, who gave us a tour of the workshop and the products.
While no longer a kid myself, I felt like one, albeit with decidedly more adult tastes in my candy. It was my birthday and this was my party as I sampled various delights, each an amazing combination of visual beauty, flavor and texture. From the savory and crunchy delight of the dark chocolate enrobed chicharrón with Chipotle Chili Powder and Sea Salt to the whimsical combinations of the brilliantly flavored and colorful Mix and Macs Collection to the multi-hued and stunningly gorgeous Sunflower Seed Praline with Malted Milk Ganache to the candied black olives coated in white chocolate to the broken bits of basil and strawberry with dark chocolate samples, I was dazzled by the imagination and skill that went into the making of these multi-sensory treats.
While each piece is astonishing in concept and visually beautiful, make no mistake the greatest art lies in the culinary skill of making these confections truly delicious in flavor and texture as well as visual appeal. Migoya clearly has a brilliant imagination and he puts it to fantastic use here. Previously, his imagination and copious skills were only available by visiting him at the restaurants he worked at or by visiting the Apple Pie Bakery-Cafe at The Culinary Institute in Hyde Park where the products he made with his students were and still are available for purchase and consumption. Indirectly, his work could be experienced through his books (Frozen Desserts, The Modern Cafe and The Elements of Dessert) or his wonderful blog The Quenelle. With many of these confections now available online, his potential customer base is much larger and rightfully so as these are skills that should be experienced by as many as possible. His confections are not cheap, but they go a long way and given the quality and unique nature of the work, they are amongst the greatest values in contemporary gastronomy I know.