by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
May 17, 2005
Martine’s artistry in chocolate making is perfection. The chocolates are made fresh daily by hand at both locations, and you can simply taste how fresh these chocolates are and how high is the quality of the ingredients used. Her attention to detail shows in the uniqueness of each mold she picks for the different flavors. These European molds have intricate decorative details elaborating the visual theme so that each chocolate is unforgettable, not only in taste but also in artistry. If you don’t remember what the chocolate is called, most likely you’ll recognize it by its shape, which makes the experience more fun too. “I’ll have two Pianos, please!”
Martine Leventer is an extremely graceful French woman. Her strong will, coupled with perfectionism, explains why she has been so successful with her chocolates. When she opened her flagship store on the 6th floor of Bloomingdale’s in 1992 she was an innovator in the industry, introducing the idea of selling artisanal chocolates by the piece instead of by the pound. She recounts that a government agency repeatedly sent her notification of taxation for a scale in the store, but she had to explain that her store did not carry a scale as she sells chocolate by the piece. At the time, it was unheard of.
Martine believes that selling chocolate by the piece is more sensible. As a chocolate lover, she recalls when she was little and her family received large boxes of chocolates as gifts. There were only a couple of pieces out of the bunch that she really liked, that she would have to fight over. Now there is nothing wrong with a large box of chocolates, but she believes that the customer should be able to choose which pieces should go into the boxes. Or if you only wanted a single piece of chocolate, that would be just fine too.
Today, when a customer walks in the store to buy a single piece of chocolate, Martine considers it the ultimate compliment, as she should. She has a large fan base around the world even though she currently has store-presence only in New York. Naturally, her chocolates can be ordered online and shipped globally. But for those of you who need the chocolates shipped, be aware that her chocolates with fresh cream fillings should not sit past five days. It’s not a problem for locals who have access to these amazing delicacies, just try to watch the waste line. Martine’s other passion is antiques, which is readily apparent since both stores display their chocolates on much of the 19th Century glassware that she collects and is so enamored with. Every detail in her store has been meticulously arranged with heart and soul, and it shows. The antique cake stands are truly beautiful and enhance the richness and wonder of the chocolates perched on top.
Martine knows about chocolates, not only how to make them, how to give them personality, but also how to give them life. At both the Bloomingdale’s and the 82nd Street shops, you can see the chocolates being made through the vitrines, and this brings the stores to life. After all, the experience of eating chocolates “is really something very sensual. If you don’t have that sensual feeling, what is left?” Martine exclaims.
What I am left with is a true sense of satisfaction and a newfound devotion to her chocolates. Everything about this experience has converted me into a true fan!
Click here to read about our craving from Martine Leventer at Martine’s Chocolates.