Paris reminds me of croissants, afternoon tea and, always, without fail, Jacques Genin. I was delighted to hear Josephine got a private tour with the confectionary master. Here is her intimate account of her afternoon with Jacques Genin in Paris. Indeed, I was very jealous! – Maggie
When I discussed my impending trip to Paris with Maggie, the first thing that sprung to her mind was Jacque Genin’s fruit-based caramels. She encouraged me to squeeze in a visit to his little boutique. Lover of all things sweet, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to meet with the legendary ‘fondeur en chocolate’ himself, and but of course, try some of his delicious delights.
Tucked away at the far edge of rue de Turenne, in the north Marais of Paris, is luxurious La Chocolaterie, Jaques Genin. The space houses both laboratory and tasting room that are connected via a staircase that winds through the center of the store. The boutique poses as a wonderland of temptation, and visitors are invited to enjoy a coffee and a tempting treat as they watch freshly prepared caramels, fruit pastels, nougats, chocolates and delicate patisseries descend from the workshop and onto the shop floor ready to satisfy the next sugar craving.
Self-trained and a locally respected culinary expert whose success was born of a keen sense of taste and attention to detail, Genin warmly welcomed me into his space to share his wisdom and flare for food.
Feeling like Charlie in the Wonka factory, I was given the personal tour of both the store and laboratory. Genin invited me into the sunlit workshop to witness the chefs diligently preparing fresh delights. Whether they were pasting eclairs with a generous layer of rich chocolate, slicing fresh slabs of caramel, or carefully plating a made to order millefeuille, each chef shared Genin’s passion for flavor and creativity.
Quite the culinary non-conformist, Genin is the proud master of all his recipes, recipes that depend on the season and the best quality produce available. His ingredients are sourced locally and from exotic regions as far as Madagascar.
When I arrived at the boutique, I was given a selection of chocolates to sample. In fact, a plate of my favorite varieties was put before me: praline rock, fruit and nut chocolate, and Genin’s boast worthy fresh mint chocolate. At first, I took a shamefully bird-sized bite of my praline in an attempt to avoid talking with a mouth full of food. Little did I know that there was a precise method to enjoying a Genin chocolate, and I was shortly corrected.
Working tirelessly to achieve the perfect balance of ingredients, a Genin chocolate is best enjoyed in a single bite, that way the flavors will rise more. Following Genin’s advice, I happily ate my mint chocolate in a single bite. The combination of the bittersweet chocolate with the refreshing mint leaves was delicious. Like a child, I was quick to pass compliments to the chef with a mouthful of chocolate. A sight that would make any mother cringe, my chocolate wedged teeth said it all: It was magnificent.
The tasting experience didn’t stop at the chocolates. I was also treated to some of Genin’s fruit pastels and his mango passionfruit caramels (Maggie’s favorite). The caramels were so delicious and, by far, my favorite. The individually-wrapped pleasures were soft to the touch and, when bitten, expelled a burnt sugar and buttery flavor with powerful tropical fruit notes.
When I asked Genin about his favorite indulgence, he answered, “depends on my mood.”
When I asked him what makes the perfect caramel, he said simply, “the perfect balance of sugar and butter.”
When I asked why he decided to open in the Marais in 2008, he asserted, “because it felt right.”
Genin is a confident man of few words, whose years of culinary experience speak volumes in his work. Typically French, he is charming and honest, and I found his character quite addictive. Easy going and a delight to photograph, Genin is open to sharing his passion and knowledge with the curious.
After speaking with a few of the Parisian locals, I confirmed that word on the street was that Genin’s boutique is the place to go for any sweet craving. At such a special venue with a special man, I was compelled to sit and enjoy the complete experience.
La Chocolaterie Jacques Genin is located at 133, rue de Turenne 75003 Paris.
All photos taken by Josephine Rozman.
Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in our new shop. Sign up to be the first to get tickets for the Eat Boutique Holiday Market on December 9, 2012.