My dictionary defines science as: knowledge obtained by observation, experiment, and measurement
In this sense, I think the discovery of conching as described by The Chef is quite a beautiful example of science … conching began with observation, followed by experiment, and then measurement. That is the very definition of science!
In fact, I can’t think of any aspect of making chocolate that owes itself to anything other than science.
Think of Henri Nestle, who invented powdered milk, which was then used by Daniel Peter to totally revolutionise the chocolate industry.
Think of van Houten, discovering how to separate cocoa butter from cocoa liquor. Cocoa butter as a separate ingredient revolutionised the chocolate industry.
Think of the process of tempering. People who don’t understand the intricacies of this process tend to describe obtaining correct temper as something that you “just know” or “feel”. I don’t doubt that many people do “just know” when chocolate has reached temper – but that doesn’t make it a mystical or indescribable process. On the contrary, correct tempering (i.e. controlled fat crystalisation) comes about as a result of very specific (and well-documented) temperature fluctuations during setting.
I have often heard the process of roasting cocoa beans described as a “black art”. Give me a colour meter and a blue light, and I’ll show you that roasting is actually a science.
Having said all this, I really don’t mind if you insist on thinking of me as a magician, or an artist :-)