The Disset Chocolate Atelier is the latest chocolate shop to open on the North Fork, and Ursula XVII is the Michelin trained pastry chef and master chocolatier behind it. She’s bringing her limited-edition bonbons to Dan’s Chefs of the North Fork on July 10 and Rosé Soirée on July 24, so don’t miss your chance to taste her latest creations.
First word (or words) that comes to mind when you hear “Taste of Summer?”
Chocolate, salt and wine!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I find inspiration everywhere, from my Catalonian roots, my travels, my life experiences and my current surroundings. Here on the North Fork, the farms, the wineries, the land itself, all help to get my creativity flowing.
You can invite three people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who are they, and what would that meal be?
Aside from my mom, with whom I can eat dinner every day, it would be Dominique Crenn, Rosa Parks and Vivienne Westwood. We’d have a traditional Catalan Calçotada; an annual gastronomical celebration held between November and April, where barbecued calçots (a unique elongated sweet onion) are consumed in massive quantities.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare, and do you enjoy eating it as much as preparing it?
A fresh tomato salad, using the best tuna, avocado, salt, chili flakes and olive oil I can find. I love preparing it because I can harvest the tomatoes from my yard, visit the local fish market for the best tuna and use local salt. It’s so flavorful, and easy to prepare.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Work hard, with a lot of method to your work and consistency in your methods.” This is a translation of a portion of the last words my godfather wrote before he passed away, in a “goodbye” letter. I was 15 when he passed, and I have tried to live by this. Most people do say I do everything 150% (more than all the way!); I think it’s because of this advice, which was passed on to me early in my life.
Share your funniest/most unforgettable/oddest kitchen incident.
I forgot to pull a batch of chocolate croissants from the freezer for a brunch the next day. When I realized, I had to go to the restaurant with a co-worker at 4 a.m. to take care of it. I learned a lesson: To always double check my “to-do” list before walking out after service, no matter how late you need to stay.
Who do you most admire in the food/wine world and why?
I admire chefs like Michael Laikonis, who has changed his focus throughout his career, while always remaining in the world of “sweets.” However, he has always approached every chapter with poise, discipline and attention. He does a lot of R&D before he teaches or serves anything to really understand the science behind what he is doing. He is currently the only bean-to-ball small production test kitchen in the USA, at the ICE school in NYC.
What is going to be the “next big thing” on the East End food scene?
As we emerge from the pandemic, the next “big thing” will be dining out in general. People have been starving (pun intended) for a chance to gather with friends and enjoy a great meal. I think we’re going to see a much more vibrant food scene.
What are your hobbies/passions/interests outside the world of food, wine and work?
I enjoy gardening and spending time in the water—diving and paddle boarding.
What’s your comfort food and why?
Charcuterie boards because they pair well with chocolate and wine.
If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?
I would be a high-end fashion photographer. That’s probably why I modeled the Disset Chocolate signature collection similar to a couture fashion line. We’ll be doing collections twice a year, with no two flavors repeated.
What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever tasted?
The egg yolk digestif by Magnus Nilsson at Faviken. A digestif is a small pour usually offered at the end of a meal. The Faviken team made an amazing creamy one (which is unusual for a digestif) using duck egg yolk. Needless to say, it was as unique as it was delicious!
What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?
Since this past year was one with no travel, I am more grateful than ever to have chosen to live on the North Fork. Even without the ability to wander the world, being here, surrounded by all the farms, artists, makers, is priceless.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Launching Disset Chocolate and the Atelier in the midst of this pandemic. I always knew I wanted to do something that I was passionate about, and I spent more than a decade figuring out what that was. Now, I found a way to devote myself fully to doing what I enjoy most.
What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?
When I’m developing new products, I don’t start with a specific “look” for the finished product, the way that you would when making plated desserts and cakes. Instead, I work my way from the inside out, so I can focus on the taste, texture and the tannins in the chocolates. Once that’s perfected, I get the inspiration for the outside part—the decorating.
What has surprised you the most about working in the East End culinary scene?
I’m blown away by what a close-knit and supportive community we have out here. There’s a tremendous spirit of collaboration, with people eager to share their talent, art, ingredients so that we all succeed.
What is your go-to karaoke song?
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Hands down!
It’s your last weekend on earth—what’s the menu?
Brussels sprouts and tomato salad, crispy pork, strawberry-rhubarb pie and, of course, CHOCOLATES!
We just handed you a glass of bubbly. Now please make a toast to summer on the East End.
A toast for all of us here, for those who are yet to come, and for those who are no longer with us. Salut!