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T+L Reports: Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres, Le Cirque's former pastry star, shocked the food world when he built his chocolate factory in Brooklyn's gritty DUMBO. But since its opening in 2000, the tiny sweets shop has been mobbed with chocoholics, and has just been expanded to include a coffee bar. Whether you drop in for a mug of his spicy hot cocoa or for chocolates filled with mint tea, you'll be hooked. Here Torres shares some of his obsessions and inspirations.

What's the latest stamp in your passport?
Mexico—I was in Oaxaca, where the Indians blend their own chocolate. It inspired me to try spices like ancho chiles and chipotle.

What makes your chocolate unique?
It's custom-blended at Belcolade in Belgium, using cocoa from around the world. I like beans from Ghana—they are less acidic.

Who makes the best chocolate worldwide?
In Paris, Jean-Paul Hévin. Bernachon is a must in Lyons. In Brussels, my friend Marc Debailleul. For old- fashioned candy: Ethel M Chocolates in Las Vegas.

Who has the biggest sweet tooth?
The pope. I made him a chocolate Vatican for his last visit to New York.

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