Chocolatier of the Hills - Miga Aboulian of Lixie Chocolaterie
We step inside the store of Lixie Chocolaterie and it’s a true respite from a hot sweltering Sydney summer’s day. We are instantly surrounded by a beautiful display of chocolates, a haven of chocolate bars, mouthwatering chocolate hearts, frogs and bon bons, decorative chocolate pearls and freckles, moorish orange cakes and nougat. Think Willy Wonka with style. The experience is further strengthened by the beautiful art deco high ceilings and white decorative arch tiles that resembles the Lixie chocolate bar packaging, the golden logo and lettering, the cacao bean wall paper, and the teetering towers of glass cake stands and vintage tea cups filling up the space in a lovely warm fuzzy way.
Lixie chocolate is made by hand in store by Miga and with handy help from her father, who turns up like clock work just as we settle in and instantly starts the working day without question. Miga’s dedication to create something amazingly tasty and wonderful for others to enjoy is admirable and the store oozes of the joy that she seems to inhale from incoming costumers settling into her velvet teal covered window seats to enjoy a tall glass of hot chocolate and home made cake. We talk to Miga about her vision for Lixie and what made her the Chocolatier of the Hills.
We love that we can collect fresh chocolate for our orders right from your store around the corner. How important is freshness to the taste of chocolate?
Anything that’s made fresh always tastes better that’s why we make everything in small batches at Lixie in order to ensure that all our products are as fresh as possible. We work by hand and use the best ingredients to enhance the flavour of all our small batch bars, wafers, bonbons and other specialties.
Are all of your chocolates made on site in Surry Hills?
The majority of our chocolates are made onsite at our Surry Hills store. We craft everything by hand using organic and single origin chocolates. There are some other items I stock such as the bean to bar single origin bars from Zokoko, Michel Cluizel and Marou but otherwise all the chocolates and cakes are made by Team Lixie.
Share your background with us: What were doing before becoming a chocolatier?
Before becoming a chocolatier I have had many jobs. My previous incarnation was that of After School Care Coordinator at SCEGGS Darlinghurst, where I was the afternoon Mama to 20 young girls every afternoon. Once I found chocolate and more so the art of making chocolate I was hooked. I wanted to learn more, much more, which is how I came to meet Herve Boutin MOF.
What was it like working with Herve Boutin?
Working with Herve has been an extremely enriching experience. He has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to chocolate and patisserie. I often ask him all sorts of questions and he patiently explains or demonstrates various techniques which I have come to learn over the past few years. We started off testing out all the various recipes for Lixie in my parents garage and from humble beginnings we now have a beautiful store to work from.
What encouraged you to make the move to open a retail store?
I wanted to have a destination where people could come and take in the smells and delights of chocolate. I wanted to create a temple of joy and for those who love chocolate and sweet treats, there’s usually that reaction of excitement when they walk in through the door.
Why did you choose Crown Street, Surry Hills?
I’ve always liked this part of town but once I saw the beautiful ceilings in the store I knew that this building was the right location for the vision that I had.
And where does the name Lixie originate from?
Lixie was a name that came to me. I had a vision of early 1900’s Paris where chocolate houses were springing up and the women of the elite would go to enjoy their hot chocolates. So I imagined a Lady Lixie that was elegant and regal sipping on her Chocolat Chaud.
Tell us a little about organic chocolate. How it is farmed and sourced? How is it different to non-organic chocolate.
Organic cacao is grown without the use of pesticides or fertilisers. It is tended to by farmers either who have their own independent small plantation or are part of a fair trade co-op, which ensures a fair price to be paid for their cacao beans. All the other ingredients that are used to make organic chocolate are also certified organic. This includes the cane sugar, vanilla pods and milk from cows that are fed organic food.
The chocolate we use at Lixie is made from organic cacao beans that are grown in the Dominican Republic and sourced by a Belgian chocolate company that processes the cocoa beans into chocolate using all the required organic ingredients. It does not contain Soy Lecithin which many health conscious people like to avoid if possible these days as Soy is a highly genetically modified crop.
Non-organic chocolate has been exposed to chemicals and fertilisers and tends to be made from a blend of beans that can come from several countries where there may be unethical cacao growing practices in place such as child slave labour and poorly paid farmers by larger corporations.
We’ve noticed that you do chocolate appreciation nights. Stop. It. Tell us a little about these events.
This is something that I have yet to begin but will do so this year. I aim to have small group gatherings where I would like to teach my guests about the process of making chocolate from bean to bar. They’ll learn about this process by sampling several types of chocolate including a select range of single origin chocolates that I work with in store. It’s a fun way to spend an evening learning about the process of making chocolate and tasting delicious morsels along the way.
How many kilos of chocolate did you use during December?
I didn’t keep track but I remember churning out batch after batch of chocolate everything. If I had to guess it would be several hundred kilos.
What’s the favourite flavour that you have created?
It would have to be the Piedmont Hazelnut and Hawaiian Black Sea Salt combo in Organic Milk Chocolate.
We love the classic gold and white art deco graphic you’ve created for your chocolate packaging. Tell us about this look for Lixie.
I’ve always loved the art deco era as there was so much elegance and class associated with it. I had wanted to create 3 distinct patterns to denote the difference between milk, white and dark chocolate. So my designer and I worked very closely together to create this set of 3 patterns inspired by the art deco era.
It must be of great satisfaction to bring joy to so many people through their tastebuds and be part of their celebrations (and commiserations). Are there any local characters who are now addicted to Lixie?
There’s always that moment when someone tastes something in-store for the first time and you see their face transform from bliss to joy. This always brings a smile to my face. There are quite a few locals that either live or work in the area that stop by on a regular basis for their fix. There are even some who come in twice or three times a day. Surry Hills has some of the most amazing characters you will meet in Sydney and I’m proud to be in the mix with all these wonderful people.
Finish this sentence. Chocolate goes best with…. everything!
Your favourite parts of Sydney…
Best breakfast? Bean and Berry Redfern - They do a mean Bacon and Egg roll…
Favourite bar? Love Tilly Devine
Favourite place for dinner with friends? The Stinking Bishops
Favourite building? The inside of Rockpool Bar and Grill
What’s something that only a local would know? Alexandria is a suburb worth seeking out if you’re a foodie like me. There are so many cool eateries there now.