Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meet the American Branch President of Michel Cluizel Chocolate

Sisters and Brothers, please join me in welcoming our guest to The Chocolate Cult, the man/woman behind, a chocolate company whose creations you will discover here on this coming Saturday and for several Saturdays to come, Mr. Jacques Dahan.

Mr. Dahan, would you please tell us who you are and what your role is at Michel Cluizel?

​I am the President of the American Branch of Michel Cluizel ​called Noble Ingredients. I am also in charge of our New York Store  0n Fifth Avenue (between 47th and 48th street)

How did you get into the chocolate business?

​I always loved chocolate and pastries and one day, by pure luck, since the ad didn't mention the name of the company or what products were sold, I sent my resume for an interview, it was a chocolate company.

How many years has Michel Cluizel been crafting chocolate? How many years have you personally been in the chocolate business?

​La Manufacture Cluizel started in 1948  with Michel's parents, when he was 16 years old (1949) he joined the business as an apprentice . For three generations now, the business has remained a family business and it is not rare to find employees with over 30 years experience with the Cluizel's family.
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​​As for me, ​ it ​started in June 1983 as a representative for Cacao Barry in France. in 1994, so, a little over 30 years

Different nations have chocolate identities so that we something talk about chocolate, or chocolate.  What makes French chocolate unique in your opinion?

​Two main differences: The size (smaller)​ and the fact that French chocolate is mostly ganaches and pralinĂ©s. 

What is your favorite type of chocolate to create?   

​I like creating different kind of Bars, like the ones we have launched  under the Cluizel's advices. (Crystallized mint Leaf, Sanded almonds with Chili, etc...)
​Is it the same type of chocolate you prefer to eat? ​ 

Depending on the time of the day, my expectations changes, as long as I have some chocolate in my mouth.​

I think all of our readers can understand that perspective!

Michel Cluizel has a regular website but also one geared toward the American market.  What is the difference between the American market and the EU market in your experience?

​The American market has evolved very rapidly in the past few years. What was considered as bitter (55% for example) 10 years ago, is now considered as  too sweet. Americans are more opened to try new "flavors" , new "concepts" than their French counterpart who are more "traditionalists". However, sometimes this behavior pushes creators to do things that no longer taste chocolate but something else.​  ​We should always keep in mind, as Michel Cluizel's many times said to me that " the main flavor in a chocolate product MUST be chocolate​"

Michel Cluizel offers a Chocolatrium® in both the USA and in France.  Would you tell us more about the purpose of this program? ​ This is a big part of the Cluizel's family. Michel Cluizel and his family  have always felt that we have a responsibility to explain and "teach" to consumers more about planters, cacao and  chocolate process while, at the same time,  making it a unique experience.  In the USA, the Chocolatrium is slightly different than the one in France as we can only accommodate private tours for groups. Sometimes in French for some schools as well as sister cities with France. It is also a way to promote cultural understanding between our two countries. Our group age goes from 5 to 98 (so far) and we cater each tour to the group we are hosting

What are the most popular chocolates that Michel Cluizel creates?  ​

Hard to say, but if I had to pick 2 products, I would choose. The 99% bar, as everyone, including me at that time, thought it was crazy to do, yet one of the best sellers. In truffle, I would pick the Champignon Caramel, by describing it, we see lights in people's eyes .

You offer a wide range of chocolate products.  How do you come up with these ideas?

​Under Marc Cluizel​ (Michel's son) leadership, we have several meetings and brainstorm on what might me the trend in the future (always a bet) as long as we use our three trades : Caccaofevier (from beand to finish products) Chocolatier and Confiseur (for all sugars and fruits techniques). Then we taste and rework it until we think it can pass the Cluizel's family test.

Finally, is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about Michel Cluizel?

​From when Michel Cluizel started to manufacture chocolates, he decided that we will not use soy lecithin or vanilla extract but pure Bourbon Vanilla Beans. Few years ago it's was considered as foolish, today people try to copy us.​  

Thank you so much for your time, Jacques.  Sisters and Brothers, what do you think of our interview today?


Cerise said...

Great post. Very informative.

TammyJo Eckhart said...

Thank you, Emilie.

I hope you all are enjoying these email interviews. I'm trying to do more of them so we can learn more about the companies and brands, the people behind the chocolate.

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