You’ll be lured off of the pavements and into the small atelier by the comforting smell of roasting cocoa beans. Then watch the chocolatiers as they exercise their chocolate skills. The small shop, a former garage, houses a range of heavy machinery weighing up to five tons. From the chocolate in its raw cocoa bean form to the finished product (flourishes, swirls, eggs, tablets and all), the whole process takes place here. Known for his rigor and persistence, Ducasse has carefully selected 12 different types of cocoa beans among some of the world’s finest chocolate-producing countries, including the Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Peru, São Tomé and Príncipe, Trinidad and Vietnam. Each sort of bean is then worked meticulously according to its specific constitution and nature.
Since Ducasse started dabbling in the kitchen in the ’70s, he has had a passion for desserts. But it wasn’t until later, during his time working with artisan chocolatier Maurice Bernachon, that he discovered a love for working with chocolate. Ducasse’s aim had always been to be able to create his own chocolate for his various restaurants around the world — from Le Grill in Monte Carlo to Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Adour at The St. Regis Washington, D.C. — and thus to be able to control every aspect of the sweet, from its appearance to its taste.
Now, with his dream of making his own chocolate fulfilled, Ducasse has handed the reins of the factory over to Nicolas Berger, a master chocolatier who has worked with the chef for 10 years as a pâtissier (pastry chef).
Among the ganaches, pralines, bouchées (stuffed puffed pastries) and truffles, there are more than 44 types of chocolate slabs, with prices starting at 6 euros (US$8) for 75g. La Manufacture is open Monday to Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Photos Courtesy of Pierre Monetta