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Above: Master chocolatier, Nicolas Berger, has selected the chocolates for their purity – and their personality (photo: © Pierre Monetta).

Sweet SENSATION

Celebrated chef Alain Ducasse describes his chocolate workshop as an exercise “in depth, in truth” (photo: © Mikael Vojinovic).

CELEBRATED CHEF ALAIN DUCASSE YIELDS AT LAST TO HIS LIFETIME OBSESSION WITH CHOCOLATE, WITH A STUNNING NEW CHOCOLATERIE IN PARIS’ UP-AND-COMING 11TH ARRONDISSEMENT.

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nter Alain Ducasse’s latest venture, named Manufacture du Chocolat Alain Ducasse, at the back of a small cobbled courtyard, and the scents of single-source chocolates plucked from exclusive plantations around the world are intoxicating. Tart, wooded and caramelised aromas permeate the air; a beguiling line-up of creations fills the display case in the sombre bank vaultturned-chocolaterie. Choose from chocolate squares, ganaches, pralines, truffles and bars (their shape created by graphic designer Pierre Tachon, no less), all crafted to draw out the flavour of their origins. Java, Madagascar, Peru, Venezuela and Trinidad beans are all on the menu, their subtle flavour differences drawn out by the

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finest almond slivers, caramelised dried fruit, spices and more. Behind the counter, a fleet of artisan machines knead, roast, mix, grind and crush the beans, and visitors can see much of the chocolate-making process. Ducasse took almost three years to secure the perfect location for his venture, and to restore, reconfigure and install the vintage machines. These were sourced – like the beans – from multiple locations, and brought back to their former glory by a team of old-timers. The machines create chocolates in 250-kilogram batches, rather than the five tonnes of modern chocolate factories, ensuring meticulous attention to detail at every stage. Of his latest culinary foray, Ducasse waxes lyrical: “Chocolate is a promise of bliss, to

which we voluptuously relinquish ourselves. It bewitches me to an ineffable point.” The confection almost claimed his career. Among three other apprenticeships, he has trained with chef and pâtissier Gaston Lenôtre, and has not lost his fascination for chocolate over the 30 years since. For this venture, Ducasse has teamed with artisan pâtissier Nicolas Berger, who hails from a family of confectioners and has worked with top establishments including Hévin and Ladurée in Paris. Berger has worked with Ducasse since 2000, most recently as head pastry chef at the Plaza Athenée. Beautifully showcased here at 40 de la Roquette, Ducasse’s fantastical chocolate creations are certain to claim at least part of your Paris spend.

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