by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
May 17, 2005
Pascal le Gac, creator at La Maison du Chocolat met Robert Linxe, the founder, 25 years ago. It was a common passion that linked the two men to forge a great partnership. Together, they created the “artisanal” chocolate.
Pascal is a perfect gentleman who knows and loves his art. I was honored to have a private chocolate tasting with him. When he speaks, he does so with the utmost politeness, but when he talks about chocolate, voilà, he is firm and determined. He is committed to explaining why his chocolates are so exquisite. The real art of making great chocolates is in research and experimentation. Pascal is driven by sensations. In everyday life, we are always experiencing a wide range of different sensations. In chocolates, we can also experience vast differences. The taste sensations he identifies (the zing of lemon and chocolate or the strange bite of fennel and chocolate are what inspire him to continuously make delicious, high-quality chocolates. La Maison du Chocolat’s success is recognized by its peers in the industry and they are always referenced as the benchmark for excellence in chocolate making.
The different flavored bonbons all have a smooth, refined consistency that is unmistakably their signature. When you bite into the chocolate, the ganache gently glides on the tongue. Blending a consistent cream base with different ganache blends maintains this silky smooth consistency. The blending of different ganaches creates a unique chocolate base for each bonbon. The ganache mixture is made to balance the flavor that is infused in the chocolate. For example, lemon has high acidity, so the ganache blend made for the lemon bonbon has lower acidity to balance taste. It’s the assemblage of the chocolate and flavors that makes the house style of La Maison du Chocolat.
What this mixing and balancing achieves is a surprisingly sensational experiences for the palette, one that I never imagined possible. Each chocolate delivers a unique experience; there is always a nose and a finish, much like the experience of wine tasting. For example, in tasting the rum raisin bonbon, one tastes the rum first, then the floral flavor of the raisin; when you bite into the fennel bonbon, you don’t immediately taste the fennel, but then it hits, not too strongly, but just enough to give the hint of fennel, then the taste fades, slowly, lingering long enough to jog the memory.
At La Maison du Chocolat chocolate is their real focus. Pascal continues to innovate and experiment with different ingredients, but he doesn’t go crazy with mixing too many flavors in a single ganache. More than two infusions per chocolate is when you start to lose the true essence of chocolate. Chocolate has its own taste and properties and La Maison du Chocolat does not want to lose sight of that.
I am delighted that I had the opportunity to meet a true master; an artisan who is every bit as endearing as his magnificent creations.
Click here to read about our craving from Pascal le Gac at La Maison du Chocolat.