La Maison du Chocolat: The art of self-indulgence

Rehabilitating chocolate in all its nobility was Robert Linxe’s intention when he created, in 1977, Chocolate House. 45 years later, Nicolas Cloiseau, Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier, who developed the new collection, doubles down on his creativity to bring chocolate to the highest level of perfection. A look back at the history of this great Maison.

La Maison du Chocolat: 45 years of knowledge

Robert Linxe, the “ganache wizard”

Robert Linxe, founder of La Mainson du Chocolat
Robert Linxe, founder of La Maison du Chocolat © DR

Chocolate is above all a story of gluttony! For Robert Linxe (1929-2014), revelation came at the age of 7 when he discovered the intricacies of chocolate in the home of one of his uncles, a restaurateur in Bordeaux. Falling into the pot from an early age, she practiced baking and bought pastries in Paris at the age of 25, Markis Presles.

For 20 years, he developed a catering business there before opening a chocolate specialty shop in 1977, which he named Chocolate House with a desire to “rehabilitate chocolate in all its glory”. If today we used to go to the chocolate shop, for that time it was a real revolution : this is indeed the first Paris shop completely dedicated to this delicacy!

The history of La Maison du Chocolat
Historic La Maison du Chocolat shop on rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré in Paris, via Wikimedia Commons

Success existed and allowed him to sell his creations overseas by opening other stores in New York, Tokyo, London or Hong Kong. Over the years, Robert Linxe always pushed his art further and continued to create : the “Pleyel”, a chocolate cake paying homage to the Salle Pleyel which was next door to the first boutique and which is still one of the House’s iconic cakes; new ganaches like Quito, a smooth, rounded, and balanced dark chocolate; but also the first brown dress for the second edition of the Paris Chocolate Fair in 1996.

His efforts to make chocolate a noble product will pay off with his entry Chocolate House at the very closed Comité Colbert promoting French creations; then in 2007 with the title of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

Nicolas Cloiseau, an “MOF” at La Maison

In 1996, Nicolas Cloiseau arrived by chance at La Maison du Chocolat to perfect his craft of making chocolate. Four years later, Robert Linxe entrusted him with the decorating direction of the Atelier where he developed artistic work. This high-flying and highly technical position allowed him to expand his knowledge, up to a point won the coveted “MOF” title in 2007, Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier Confectioneur. While the founding fathers took a well-deserved retirement, Nicolas Cloiseau took over the reins Chocolate House in 2012.

Nicolas Cloiseau, the finest chocolate worker in France
Nicolas Cloiseau © DR

Chocolate: a fashionable product

Fashionable chocolate, sometimes the gaps are not so wide, “I’ve always compared my brand to chocolate jewelery, with chocolate and muted decorations, matching boxes, delicate cases and Hermès-inspired cotton bands. » said Robert Linxe.

The attention paid to boxes and the various annual collections is indeed reminiscent of the style of the great Houses which, like Hermès, Sèvres or Cartier, express beauty and kindness by transforming raw materials into luxury products.

Sample artwork from Chocolate House – Christmas 2022

So, if perfumers have a “nose”, these professionals are able to recognize fragrances and create perfumes, Chocolate House has a “reference taste”, ten experts whose taste guarantees the quality of a new creation.

The selection of cocoa also resembles oenology. Like wine, the aromatic character of each cacao depends on the soil, altitude and fermentation. Therefore, there is always a question of finding the best cocoa in the world to offer a different aroma. This year, for example, chocolate from Cameroon was chosen for the Christmas creations.

Staying fashionable is not easy because even in the world of chocolate, tastes change…

Chocolate House
© Thomas Dhellemmes

Knowledge and knowledge

Today, chocolate is becoming more democratic: the average French consumption exceeds 13 kilograms per year! So how do you keep surprising your customers?

Nicolas Cloiseau, like his predecessors, always pushed the boundaries further and was constantly trying to reinvent himself. New textures, new sensations… it’s about adapting chocolate to current tastes, and following trends, just like in fashion! An (r)evolution that has occurred in recent years with the elimination of alcoholic beverages in favor of more intensely flavored fruits; reducing sugar and fat or creating a vegan range without butter.

This research also considers environmental and social issues. La Maison du Chocolat has joined a network of Chocolatiers who are committed to sourcing 100% cocoa directly to producers, and prioritizing suppliers with positive social and environmental impacts for local communities.

Give memories to the mortal

Of course, producing high-end chocolate, handmade in France (the workshop is in Nanterre) costs money. But these chocolates are not simple little gourmet delights, their interplay of taste and texture convey certain emotions that we remember for a long time; they “give memories to the mortal” – to use an expression from Thierry Marx. Dare to open the doors of La Maison du Chocolat shop to sample their creations, you won’t regret it!

Chocolate House
© Thomas Dhellemmes

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