The Chocolate Alchemist
Robert Campbell is wild about chocolate. He developed his devotion to cacao during his time as a semi-professional mountain biker in Venezuela. He was obsessed with consuming many of nature’s energy foods, and chocolate was his secret weapon.
A few years later, Robert returned to his home state of Pennsylvania with Judith, his Venezuelan Bride, to open Sazon Restaurant in Philadelphia. Chef Judith runs the kitchen, and Robert’s domain is the front of the house. While judith created daily meals of fine, authentic Venezuelan fare, Robert longed for his own culinary identity, yet did not want to tread on Judith’s turf. His solution was to launch a chocolate laboratory and store within the restaurant.
Today Robert serves a year round revolving menu of more than twenty varieties of hot chocolate, along with his unique chocolate truffles. His chocolate Workshop is housed behind the bar at Sazon (in the front of the house, of course), and during off hours he can be found there concocting and testing new recipes. Robert is very proud, and very propietary, about his recipes, so we were thrilled when he agreed to share four of his creations with the Readers of Dessert Professional. Enjoy these hot chocolate and truffle recipes (one tradicional and one the Sazon way for each) along with the images of Robert, Judith, and the edible delights that make Sazon Restaurant a unique destination for chocolate aficionados.
Dessert Professional Magazine | February2011
Bring your appetite and your sweet tooth to this Venezuelan dinner.
"Suzarra-Campbell makes just about everything from scratch.
Venezuelan (arepas) treat them like buns, stuffing them with seasoned shredded chicken...airy eggs mixed with tomatoes. Like the crispier ... empanadas, they are delicious.
Sazon's tequenos are tasty cigarillo-looking...
Meatball come in a neat row of half-dozen garlic and adobo-perfumed orbs resting
on a strip of red tomato sauce...
The burger...is la bomba...seasoned meatloaf-style...the patty comes piled with
a slab of ham, a slice of avocado, LTO, more of that pink mayo and - ah heaven-
a fried egg.
...guasacaca accompanies a hefty white-peppered sirloin steak. Good stuff. You'll
want to scarf it al down, as if you actually burned enough calories to merit
Venezuelan-style consumption. What do you care? Fill up. But whatever you do,
don't skip dessert."
McCUTCHEON, Lauren. | Philadelphia Weekly | February 9-15, 2005
Northern Liberties While Robert Campbell and wife Judith Suzarra-Campbell specialize in home-style Venezuelan cooking at Sazon (941 Spring Garden St., 215-763-2500), Campbell says his hot chocolates are his most inspired creations, drawing equally from a love for both the old and new worlds. "I am the king of hot chocolate in Philadelphia," he says. "I have tried all of the popular hot chocolate places in the city with horrible disappointment ... I am hungry for someone to challenge me." There are over a dozen exotic varieties, for which Campbell chips directly off blocks of pure cacao. La Cuaima is a tart variety with cinnamon and three kinds of chilies mixed right in; the sweeter, exceptional Calabaza King brings together pumpkin-infused chocolate.
Citypaper | December 2007
When the owner took a wife, a Spring Garden coffee shop took a turn.
"The empanadas ... Venezuelan style are in a shell of crunchy, yellow corn bread: Stuffed with shredded beef, black beans and sweet plantains, the version here is the most irresistible item on the menu. And the milky hot chocolate... extraordinarly luscious..
But more typically, Sazon's flavors are homey, traditional, and unlike chile-spiked Mexican dishes, decidedly temperate."
NICHOLS, Rick | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Sunday, January 23, 2005
"Judith Suzarra-Campbell...describes her food as very plain, very traditional, fresh and with flavor.
As a Venezuelan-American co-worker of mine said of Sazon, with a look of rapture on her face, "It tastes like home."
MOTOYAMA, Sono. | Philadelphia Daily News | Friday, February 18, 2005
"On Nov, 5 Judith Suzarra-Campbell and her husband Bob Campbell opened Sazon,
Philadelphia's newest South American restaurant...
Sazon is a casual neighborhood BYOB.
We began with the most delicious, unique salad. Ensalada Roja...Empanadas just might be the official snack...these treat are single-serving turnover... Arepas...Venezuelan specialties are made with corn flour and formed patties. You
can eat them...as a sandwich, which is how Sazon offers them.
...a classic chicken dish called pollo a la parrila...like the beet salad was big enough to share. The chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked.
We enjoyed white rice and black beans alongside this dish, though you can order yucca and salad made with shredded cabbage, carrots, onios and mayonnaise as a side as well.
Sazon is a marvelous find. I felt as if I were dining in someone's home in Caracas. Suzarra-Campbell prepares tasty homemade dishes at very reasonable prices.
Obviously people have discovered Philadelphia's new South American gem.
Three tips of the toque to Sazon."
STEIN-NOVACK, Phyllis.| South Philly review | January 20, 2005
La cheff, cocinera y propietaria del primer restaurante venezolano de comida tradicional en Filadelphia...
Ubicado en la esquina de las calles Spring Garden y la Diez, en un vecindario en vias de desarrollo...hace parte del creciente numero de restaurantes y negocios latinos que estan representando positivamente a la comunidad hispana de Filadelfia.
"Aqui la gente pueden encontrar...comida muy tradicional y saludable que no consiguen en el centro de la ciudad",..."tenemos comida para vegetarianos, comida casera tipica de Venezuela muy rica, sin causar un paro al corazon".
..."Todas las recetas son de mi familia, mis abuelas, tias y padres,"
Actualmente, Sazon provee comida para fiestas,bodas y cumpleaños, mientras siguen sirviendo a una clientela diversa los seis dias a la semana con alrededor de 100 personas en una noche ocupada.
MARTINEZ, Pauloma | IMPACTO | Del 10 al 16 de Agosto de 2006
Sazon, localizado en la seccion de Norther Liberties...es el primero de ese pais andino en Filadelfia.
Su menu se puede describir como simple y directo. Con recetas para el caldo de pollo de abuelita, variedad en emparedados y platos venezolanos traditionales, hasta el pabellon criollo.
Sazon es especial no solo por su comida, sino por su preparacion tambien. Los duenos ponen un cuidado especial en comer sanamente, y para los clientes conscientes de esto tendran la satisfaccion de saber que este lugar cocina con aceite de oliva, canola y de maiz, y tratan de proveer carnes organicas si estan disponibles.
...visite www.pontealdia.com para leer el articulo completo.
CRUZ, David | Al Dia | Mayo 13-19, 2007
.. Sazon greets customers with South American hospitality, Latin art, and incredibly rich cuisine. The husband and wife duo that owns the restaurant, Bob Campbell and Judy Suzarra-Campbell, hail from Philadelphia and Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela, respectively. . ,their personalities balance each other ... Bob is amiably ... like the rich and spicy Chocolate Caliente drink he brews from imported European and South American cacao ($4).
Judy...presents the wide range of traditional dishes such as arepas - hand-ground corn meal patties - whose recipes have been passed down through the generations. Venezuelan dishes, . . . are known for a range of spices replacing the heat generally associated with other Latin American cuisines.
... the food is extremely honest, daringly authentic (... the first purely Venezuelan restaurant in Pennsylvania), and unpretentiously delicious. .. the menu was enjoyable,...Reina Pepiada arepas ($6), filled with shredded chicken and creamy avocado to platanos fritos ($4), chewy fried plantains topped with salty crumbled hard cheese. Thick, caramelized sugar cane juices balanced out the amargo(bitter) elements of dishes such as the Asado Negro ($16)...."the king of Caracas," Bob proclaims - was accompanied by a mound of white rice resting in burnt molasses sauce.
The restaurant also caters...All the oil used is canola, corn, or olive, much healthier alternatives...as Bob called it, "Latin food without the heart attack."
For dessert,... the "bitchiest" hot chocolate in town ($4)...Fittingly, the thick mousse-like drink was bittersweet at first, followed by a spicy three chile kick and a strong cinnamon aftertaste. We ... a rich chocolate flan ($5), a caramel custard called quesillo ($5), and a vanilla tres leches cake ($5.50) ... All three were addictive ...
This BYO represents ... an oasis of Venezuelan culture. It's food fit for a dictator. - even Chávez would be proud.
>> Read it
Rothstein, Eliza | 34 st Magazine | 2/22/07
Sazon Hot Chocolates Making News!!!
CBS 3 News