It’s 9AM on rue de la Roquette and the smell of chocolate is floating out onto the street. It has a similar effect on me as coffee, which is a good thing considering I skipped my morning espresso for this early rendez-vous at La Manufacture de Chocolat. I’m not having chocolate for breakfast though. Instead, I’m learning to make it and from one of the greatest chocolatiers in the world, Nicolas Berger.
After twelve years working around the globe for the renowned Alain Ducasse, the famous chef asked Berger to lead the way in achieving his dream of a truly Parisian chocolate. But bringing Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse vision to life was no easy feat. It began with the search for the perfect factory in the heart of Paris. Easier said than done considering the sheer weight of the machines most old buildings’ foundations in Paris are not constructed to support. Eventually they renovated an old garage in this revamped industrial zone of the French capital that seems to be abuzz with culinary talents in recent years. This morning is no exception, as when I arrive Berger’s team is folding pistachios and nougat into ganache, tending to truffles gliding down conveyor belts, and delicately packing the chocolates into beautiful boxes. But Berger leads us right to the source: the cocoa beans.
In fact the only part of their chocolate making that doesn’t take place in Paris is the growing of the beans themselves, which are carefully chosen from growers all over the world for their various nuances of flavor. Once arrived, the beans pass through two millstones and other machines, heated by friction and melting the cocoa butter to form a cocoa paste that makes up the chocolate most “chocolatiers” buy and reinvent in their particular flavor and form. But not Berger. His chocolate is made from A to Z right here in the 11th arrondissement by his own hands and savoir-faire.
The tastiest part comes next though, as an array of flavor and ingredients are added to make up this incredibly indulgent line of ganaches, pralinés, and truffles. There are 48 different types in fact, each one as tasty as it is beautiful once perfectly packaged on the shelves of their two Parisian chocolate shops, one right here on the Right Bank in front of the factory, and a second on the Left Bank tucked behind the Café de Flore. Inside them, bars are carefully stacked by flavor, and truffles displayed like delicate little bijoux in glass cases.
I couldn’t help but think Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse is the perfect thing to treat yourself to when in Paris. I myself couldn’t resist leaving with some chocolate this morning. If you’re looking for a little indulgence yourself, how about some gourmand inspired makeup like Le Crayon Khôl in Chocolat Chaud or Color Design Matte Lip Crayon in Berry Haute? Today I’m guilty of treating myself to both…