May 05, 2022 7 min read
Daniel Joseph Corpuz is a pastry chef and chocolatier based in New York City. As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Daniel achieved his Associates Degree in Baking and Pastry and his Bachelor’s Degree in Food Business Administration in 2019.
Daniel has worked in several fine dining restaurants in New York City, of which include The Modern at MoMA, Manhatta, and One White Street.
As a result of the pandemic, Daniel has shifted to work primarily with chocolate, creating bonbons, confections, and showpieces. His extensive work with chocolate, during a turbulent time in the food industry, yielded the opportunity to be on Netflix’s new show, ‘School of Chocolate’ with world renowned Pastry Chef Amaury Guichon.
Utilizing his Filipino-American background, he ultimately decided to launch Daniel Corpuz Chocolatier. This chocolate brand centers on his upbringing while amplifying his industry experience by utilizing Filipino and Asian ingredients and flavors into his chocolates.
Q1: In Netflix exclusive 'School of Chocolate' you were the youngest competitor (22) and also the only Filipino competing in the competition. Being the youngest competitor, did you feel like you wouldn't be able to compete with the other more experienced chefs. Has the global reach Netflix has affected you at all, especially in the Filipino community? How was your relationship with the other contestants on the show? Were they able to share any advice for you and your business Daniel Corpuz Chocolatier?
A: As the youngest chef on the show, of course there were moments, especially in the beginning, where I was concerned that I would be going up against chefs who've been in the industry for decades. I ultimately reminded myself that despite that, my experience in Michelin Restaurants and the chefs I've worked with have prepared me enough that I would be able to 'sing for my supper.' That doesn't mean there weren't moments where I struggled, although I think I was able to showcase myself as an invaluable asset at the school.
Being the only Asian American, Filipino American chef on the show has certainly made an impact in the AAPI community. I sort of broke the mold by going into a non-traditional career field, and I will always be grateful that my parents never actively squashed my dream. I often find myself speaking to younger students who have an interest in entering the food industry. One example, is a post I often refer to that really encapsulates this. A woman commented on a post I had and said (paraphrased): "I watched the show with my younger nephew, after the show I asked him who his favorite chef was. His response was Daniel, just because he's Asian." It's a post that I sent to Netflix showing that representation does matter a lot.
I am grateful that my time on the show, was able to yield me 10 invaluable mentors. Chefs whom I can call upon whenever I need advice, like when I was at a point that I was about to invest in a tempering machine, Thiago helped ease my concerns and told me to grab a larger unit cause I would ultimately need it. As for the business side, I credit my Bachelors in Business Administration from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) for helping me.
Q2: You essentially started your business after losing your job at Daniel Meyer's Manhatta when COVID-19 hit. What was that like starting a business from scratch during a pandemic and did you ever have any doubts about your new project? Do you remember your first sale and was there ever a "this is what I'm supposed to be doing" moment? If we were to ask you a few years ago (before COVID) where you think you'd be in the culinary world, do you think it would be working with chocolate?
A: Losing my job was a blow, as it was for many. I remember being at the restaurant on March 13th, prepping for service, only to be met by our Executive Chef telling us that we were going to close for a week. A week, that never ended. While at home, it was more of 'I can't do nothing' and because I had some chocolate at home I decided to just make bonbons and showpieces for fun. In doing so, it helped me hone my skills and find my style. It was around May 2020 when people began asking if I would ever sell my chocolates, and from there I decided to go for it. My box at the time was a generic black jewelry box, no flavor chart, no insert, no padding, but it sold. Don't get me wrong, it was only like 15 boxes, but it was enough to keep me going.
As for working with chocolate, I absolutely would no have expected this is what I'd be doing. I would say that the outcome of all of this is crazy. My goal after graduating from CIA was always to climb the ladder and become an Executive Pastry Chef at a restaurant or hotel, and then compete at like the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie. That vision has shifted into running my own business, but still hopefully competing down the line.
Q3: Through Instagram we see that you've been selling through a pop-up shop at Canal Street Market in NY. What are your plans for the future of you and your business? Do you have goals of expanding into a brick-and-mortar chocolate store? What have been your biggest difficulties so far and what would you say has been the most enjoyable part of the process?
A:The next step, that I am currently working on is finding my first retail space. I can't imagine leaving New York City, but with rent on the rise, I don't want to risk so much capital in a brick and mortar. With that said, I have found that going into a curated food hall would be the best move. It at least gives me the opportunity to tell people that I have a permanent spot.
The ultimate goal would be to have my own Brick and Mortar, but soon! My favorite part about being at the markets, is that I am able to meet people. I am able to speak to them about the show, about my life, and what I do, which is really the most valuable part of what I do.
Q4: You grew up in a Filipino household and have noted that a lot of inspiration comes from your heritage. How have you brought that into the world of chocolate or how you run your business?
A:Growing up in a Filipino household carries much weight in what I do. Many of the flavors I make have a Filipino/Asian-American influence. My goal is to showcase that there is more to Filipino desserts, other than ube.
Q5: You've made some super incredible chocolate sculptures and various other pieces over the past couple of years. Is there one specifically that sticks out in your mind or is most memorable, and why? Is there another chef that has made a huge impact in your life or is most memorable? And lastly, if you had to recommend a favorite from your chocolate collection of bonbons in terms of flavor and looks, what would it be?
A: That is certainly a hard decision. I feel like whenever I finish a piece, it is automatically my favorite. Over time however, I start seeing elements that I could have done better. If i had to choose, it would have to be my showpiece for my capstone project at the CIA. Its certainly bulky, and doesn't have the same flow I now have in my pieces, but it was my first 7ft tall piece. It was then that I realized that I was crazy, but crazy in a good way.
The chef I often speak about is Chef Stephen Dufee. I had the opportunity to learn from him during my senior year at the CIA. As a former Coupe du Monde competitor, he has certainly inspired me to continue to work with chocolate, and be crazy.
The bonbon I would recommend, is actually an item I am currently working on. Its my 'Philippine Araw.' Its the symbol found on the Filipino flag, and it's a product that utilizes many ingredients from the Philippines. Its layered with a Kalamansi Caramel, Mango Ganache, and Rice Crispy Base.
"So the coats I use are the Heritage, and most recently the Mantova. I like wearing these coats because they both offer a sleek look. Whenever I do my pop-ups, people are able to recognize and acknowledge that I am a chef and professional which often leads people to believing in the product I'm displaying and selling."
To see more incredible work from chef Daniel Corpuz, you can find him on Instagram at @danielcorpuz. Follow his chocolate shop @danielcorpuzchocolatier to find news about his next pop-up and to follow along on his journey. You can watch Chef Corpuz compete on Netflix exclusive 'School of Chocolate' Season 1.
We appreciate you taking the time to read our latest Featured Chef series!
Comments will be approved before showing up.