It’s as close to Willy Wonka as one can get in real life… in Shanghai. The Zotter Chocolate Theater is a slightly surreal, zany and irreverent chocolate dreamscape unexpectedly located in the Yangpu district of Shanghai. While there’s not much of note in this district, this is one place that’s worth the 30-40 minute taxi ride from downtown to experience this Austrian chocolate paradise.
The Zotter Chocolate Theater is located in an upcycled heritage-protected brink factory and guides visitors on a “bean to bar” chocolate experience with an opportunity to taste just about every flavour, raw material, and type of chocolate from the Zotter global portfolio. And the Zotter range of chocolates is seemingly endless, with the variety of chocolates being more than Cadbury, Hershey and Nestle’s products combined!
Zotter is a 25 year-old chocolate manufacturer, among the top 8 chocolate companies in the world and 100% organic. The Zotter Chocolate Theater experience is uncannily Willy Wonka-like with a irreverent celebration of all things chocolate presented in oddly inventive ways and narrated as a kooky family story of a dad, his children, cousins and all those who are involved in this creation of a zany chocolate brand that is distinctly unlike any other.
The Shanghai “bean to bar” tour is an exact replica of the tour in the Austrian headquarters, starting with a film explaining everything from the source of the cocoa beans, to the process that takes a bean to a chocolate bar. And then on the tour you get to see and taste it all for yourself. Taste over 250 kinds of chocolate from chocolate bars, to chocolate drinks including wild and wonderful combinations like chocolate whiskey and chocolate cheese. This unexpected combination of flavours is characteristically Zotter. As Julia Zotter who guided our tour aptly said, “expect the unexpected.”
As a food nerd, I was excited to try the raw beans (unbearably bitter) and taste the various stages of refinement that the chocolate goes through (from bitter beans to bittersweet raw chocolate to decadently delicious milk chocolate).
And even though I think it was more meant for the children on the tour, I was extremely enthusiastic about the make-your-own “Mi-Xing” bar where you are faced with a plethora of chocolate molds, chocolate types and ingredient types. I ended up concocting a chili-spiced chocolate “goat” with coconut crusted legs, made for my boyfriend who is a goat on the Chinese Zodiac, but truth be told, designed with my palette in mind 😉
So if you are into food experiences like me, love chocolate (who doesn’t?), ever wondered what Chocolate Whiskey might taste like, and are curious about the story of the world’s wackiest chocolate family then the Zotter Chocolate Theater will surely tickle your fancy.