Jean-Paul Hévin, Patrick Roger, Un Dimanche à Paris… I was certainly getting around to my favorite chocolatiers during my last weeks in Paris. But in the very last few days, I made visits to two brand new chocolatiers: Chloe Chocolat and Franck Kestener.
My own copy of Chloé Doutre-Roussel’s bible, The Chocolate Connoisseur (2005), is a tattered, stained mess from all the bonbons I consumed while reading about Criollo trees and the tempering process. And when I spoke with Chloé at the Salon du Chocolat in October about the chocolate salon she was opening dangerously close to my apartment, needless to say I was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop. She debuted her two-story sliver of a salon just days before my departure, so I got to sit and chat with her and taste some mighty good chocolate.
What distinguishes Chloé—aside from being the former chocolate buyer for Fortnum & Mason and one of the very few female pros in an industry dominated by men—is how no-nonsense she is. She doesn’t scold about cocoa percentages or eschew milk chocolate for dark. She doesn’t make you feel like a chump for liking chocolate even if it’s not wrapped up from a “beans to bar” artisan or stamped with organic approval. “Don’t worry about where the beans come from,” she insists. “When you buy chocolate, you’re buying an emotional experience; it’s sensory.” Ah oui, merci!
That’s not to say she’s not on a crusade to make the world filled with better chocolate and more appreciation for it. Indeed, the intent of her new Marais home is to school both amateurs and connoisseurs through classes ranging from an introduction to chocolate to comprehensive international trends. She also offers two-and-a-half-hour walking tours that pay visits to some of the city’s most prestigious chocolatiers. And, once you’ve worked up a chocolate appetite, she offers milk and dark chocolate tablettes (in adorable packaging), both of which are divine and can be paired with carefully selected teas.
Across town, Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier, Franck Kestener offers a different, more decadent chocolate experience. It’s a posh shop near the Luxembourg Gardens, peddling marzipan, macarons, mendiants and more.
I went straight for his ganache-filled bonbons, which come in a beautiful and inspired range of flavors, from buttery tarte tatin to crisp mint to fruity juniper.
I saved my square of Atlantique—shortbread and salted caramel, topped with 66% dark chocolate—for the plane ride home, but piggishly ate two Nuages while strolling the streets of the sixth arrondissement. Another one of the young chocolatier’s specialties, these treats look like cannelés but are filled with a light and fluffy whipped chocolate marshmallow.
It’s been over three weeks since those visits. My cupboard is finally depleted of the bars and bonbons I brought home with me. I think I need another Parisian chocolate run.