‘School of Chocolate’ chef Daniel Corpuz brings Valentine’s pop-up to West Village

The youngest contestant on Netflix’s latest cooking show, “School of Chocolate,” shares his culinary journey, a cookie recipe and a special perk for NYU students this Valentine’s Day.

Alex Tran, Culture Editor

The youngest contestant on ”The School of Chocolate,” Daniel Corpuz, is in Manhattan for a pop-up shop at Canal Street Market. (Staff Photo by Alex Tran)

During my winter-break baking spree, I binge-watched chef Amaury Guichon’s strangely meditative “School of Chocolate,” a chocolate-making competition for seasoned professional chefs. Among this impressive group is 23-year-old Daniel Corpuz, the youngest contestant, who has spent all his life around pastries and chocolate.

It just so happens that he’s going to be near NYU’s Washington Square campus for a Valentine’s Day event on Feb. 13th at Café Kitsuné on Hudson Street. Responding to my absolutely non-fangirly email, Corpuz gladly agreed to give me an interview and a sweet surprise for NYU students at his upcoming pop-up shop. And if you like to bake, then make sure to check out his recipe for the perfect white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: Has chocolate making been a major part of your life since you were a kid?

Corpuz invites his customers to take a sniff at the Asian cacao beans that are foundational to his brand of chocolate. (Staff Photo by Alex Tran)

Daniel Corpuz: I was a really picky eater growing up — picky in the sense that I ate white rice and that’s it. So my parents were really surprised when I went into this field and this industry. My background is actually in wedding-cake design, specializing in sugar flowers. I used to do that all throughout high school and middle school. Cake and pastry were very foundational things growing up. I only got into chocolate when I attended a demo with world-renowned chef Susan Notter.

But it really came to fruition when COVID-19 hit. In March 2020, I was still working at a well-known fine-dining restaurant — Daniel Meyer’s Manhatta — and I lost my job. While at home, I was like, “What can I sell that no one else was making?” And it was bonbons with the [level of craft] that I made them at. I was just making them for posts, but people were asking “Are you ever gonna sell your chocolate?” So I took the risk, and it worked! Not only did I make bonbons, but also sculptures, since that was something I have always done throughout culinary school and at home. That’s actually how I got onto “School of Chocolate.” 

WSN: Are there many young chocolatiers out there like you?

Corpuz: There aren’t necessarily that many young chocolatiers or young entrepreneurs in general in the food industry, because there’s this preconception that in order to do well in the industry you have to be a pastry cook or a cook first and then you climb the ladder. This past summer, I went back into the restaurant industry and it dawned on me that I gave up building a business to work in a restaurant. Was this really the right decision? That was before the show, and I couldn’t tell anyone about it, but it was always at the back of my mind. When the Netflix producer decided the day for the show to come out, [that] was actually the day that I stepped away from this position and built my brand. 

WSN: Have fellow “School of Chocolate” contestants imparted any advice on operating Daniel Corpuz Chocolatier?

Corpuz: Yes! I just recently invested in a Selmi machine — which is one of those big chocolate fountains you see on the show — and Thiago Silva [another contestant] was like, “Dude, grab the bigger unit ’cause you’re gonna need it,” as I was looking at the cheaper options. He was right, and I went one size up to a 24-kilogram machine, so I would always have 24 kilograms of chocolate melted and tempered at any time, allowing me to produce at a higher scale. Even chef Amaury from the show was always open to questions. And that’s the way I operate as well. I’ve got a lot of messages from people who also want to become chocolatiers and want to make pastry in general, and I’m always willing to give them advice. 

WSN: How have you brought your Filipino heritage to the world of chocolate?

Corpuz’s 50-pound chocolate creation in celebration of the Lunar New Year. (Staff Photo by Alex Tran)

Corpuz: I like to utilize a lot of Filipino ingredients and Asian American ingredients into my production. My parents immigrated here so I’m first-gen, and I’m proud to be part of the AAPI community. So integrating these ingredients into my work means a lot. Most chefs in the industry always go for American or South African cacao. Not many people use Asian chocolate, so I like to use a lot of beans from the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, China and Vietnam; and people were intrigued because it’s different. October is Filipino Heritage Month and June 12 is Philippines’ Independence Day, so those are big events for me which I integrate into my chocolatier’s holiday schedule.

WSN: What have you prepared for the upcoming event at Café Kitsuné?

Corpuz: On Feb. 13, I will have a market session. People will be able to swing by and purchase bonbon boxes, truffles and snack bars. What I like about the market is that I’m able to meet people, talk to them and introduce what I do to everyone else. Right now, preorders are still open through a link on my Instagram, but it seems like I’m gonna have enough products if you haven’t preordered. But honestly, the best way to secure a product right now is to preorder. If anyone from NYU purchases anything preordered or on-site, if you bring your NYU ID, I will be giving out a little something extra!

Daniel Corpuz Chocolatier’s menu at Canal Street Market. (Staff Photo by Alex Tran)

In an email after our interview, Corpuz said he was making special bonbons for NYU students. So be sure to take up his offer and follow his decadent dessert content on Instagram. He’s also leaving an easy recipe for those of you who prefer a homemade approach.

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 10-12 minutes

Yield: 50 cookies

Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate

Ingredients

• 2 ½ tablespoons of room temperature butter
• 1 cup of granulated sugar
• 1 cup of light brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 2 ¼ teaspoons of vanilla extract
• 4 ½ cups of all purpose flour
• 2 ½ teaspoons of baking soda
• 4 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
• 3 ½ cups of white chocolate chips
• ½  cup of chopped macadamia nuts

Procedure

• Preheat the oven to 325 F.
• In a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, place butter, sugars, vanilla and salt — or place in a bowl and use a hand mixer or whisk.
• Cream the ingredients on medium speed until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
• Add the eggs one at a time and continue to mix until the mixture is fully combined.
• In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and sift using a strainer.
• Add sifted dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
• Mix until the cookie dough is fully formed.
• Add macadamia nuts and chocolate chips until all they are incorporated into the dough.
• Roll the cookie dough to desired size and place in the oven.
• Bake for six minutes, rotate the tray, then bake for another four to six minutes until golden brown. 

Contact Alex Tran at [email protected]