September 19, 2011 | Short Order
Chocolate Wunderkind Sets Up Shop in Soho
by Katharine Schub
Owner Shaineal Shah and his bling-bling truffles. Photo: Katharine Schub
The baby faced owner of Xocolatti, Shaineal Shah, always wanted to be a chef but was dissuaded by his traditional, Indian family. Shah pleased them by studying finance but still had the itch to get involved with food. He approached his mother who is also his creative and business partner about opening a chocolate shop and the rest is history. The small, cubbyhole in Soho is lit like a nightclub in the meatpacking district, complete with sake ganache filled truffles. All the walls are paved with stacks of green Xocolatti chocolate boxes so customers can pick one from the wall and make their own selection (Truffle boxes, $13.00-50.00).
Although he grew up in Scarsdale, New York much of the chocolate sold in Xocolatti is inspired by Shah's Bombay heritage. For example, the 23-year-old cocoa prodigy and his mother hand make “slates” of chocolate, paint them with dried chiles and pieces of dried mango, rose petals and nuts ($3 per ounce). His chocolate “crumbles” – a failed experiment in making a pineapple coconut bar – are a gathering of flavors and textures similar to the mix and match Indian snack of paan ($13.00). Also sold are “sparks” – tubes of crushed butter biscuits, dusted with gold – a nod to the family's jewelry operation ($8.00).
When asked if this mother- son team would ever want to bring haute chocolate to India, Shaineal’s answer is yes, but, his mother is doubtful. The Indian sweets market is saturated, she says. “There are many Indian sweets and Indians don't eat much chocolate.”
After talking to this family, I don't believe that for a second.
172 Prince Street. 212.256.0332. Friday through Saturday 11:00 am to 9:30 pm. Sunday 11:00 to 6:00 pm.
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