Mathieu, our chocolatier
Last September, our chocolatier Mathieu Mooc joined the team of confectioners at La Grande Épicerie de Paris. Since joining us, he has been working on developing our first range of chocolates, mixing single origin chocolates, pralines and fondant truffles.
He is also passionate about pastries, and every day he creates decorations that enhance the desserts on our shelves. Discover the secrets of this chocolate collection alongside him.
How did you become a chocolatier?
When I was a little boy I often made cakes with my family at the weekend. I was already passionate but I didn’t think about making it my job one day until my parents raised the question.
From the age of 15, I completed several apprenticeships in Parisian establishments.
In 2010, I joined the Ferrandi school to learn the basics of pâtisserie, then I completed by diploma in chocolate making at the Ecole de Paris des Métiers de la Table, du Tourisme et de l’Hôtellerie [Paris Restaurant, Tourism and Hospitality School] (EPMTTH). I then decided to specialise in these two areas for 3 years.
Last September, I joined the ranks of La Grande Épicerie de Paris as a chocolatier. Thibault Leroy, pâtissier at the establishment, had the ambition to create the first range of chocolates, crafted entirely on site. I said yes to this new adventure immediately!
Can you present La Grande Épicerie de Paris range of chocolates to us?
We offer a range of 12 chocolates. A chocolate is a chocolate truffle, cut out then coated in chocolate.
In store, we offer 5 pralines, 5 fruit truffles and 2 milk chocolate and dark chocolate Grand Cru. All our chocolates are crafted on site, on our premises at rue de Sèvres in Paris. An average of 4 days is required to make a variety of chocolates. There are several complicated steps, including coating. It must follow a very precise temperature curve which will determine the appearance, texture and taste of the chocolate.
We also craft the decorations for chocolate eclairs or eggs that adorn our Easter cake. Throughout the year, we make approximately 150 kilos of chocolate per week.
During the busy times of Christmas and Easter, we have to double quantities, sometimes reaching up to 300 kilos of chocolate!
What is that little “je ne sais pas quoi” of La Grande Épicerie de Paris chocolates?
We select our raw materials with care, as quality is essential. Our recipes are, for example, made with Charentes-Poitou protected designation of origin (AOP) butter, “l’or des près” cream and single origin chocolate from the chocolatier Valrhona.
What is the most iconic and unusual chocolate to taste in store?
The most iconic chocolate is the milk chocolate one. For this we use a cocoa bean variety from Brazil. It isn’t very sweet but has a high cocoa content, with milky notes. This chocolate will please both young and old alike.
I also recommend the Earl Grey truffle. It is infused in crème pâtissière for around 48 hours to develop all the flavours, without adding bitterness. We then enhance it with 65 % dark chocolate, with cocoa beans from the island of Grenada.
How do we recognise a fine chocolate?
Recognising a fine chocolate is like recognising a fine wine. It should be shiny, smooth and have a consistent colour. Smell is also part of tasting. Depending on the origin of the cocoa beans, we can distinguish certain floral, spiced, vanilla or smoked notes.
Your sense of hearing is also required. When we bite into a chocolate, the sound must be sharp, a sign of quality.
Finally, on the palate, the chocolate must be harmonious, balanced and rounded. It should also leave a pleasant aftertaste. A fine chocolate stirs up emotions, tells a story and should take you on a journey.