If you love chocolate, immerse yourself in the amazing world of Michel Cluizel. The company make some of the most fantastic chocolate in the world. So read on and learn all about the,
I first came across the amazing chocolate made by the Cluizel family at one of our monthly wine and chocolate evenings at Hernando Cortez Schokoladen in Cologne. The evenings are hosted by the fabulous Marco. I wrote about all the different wine and chocolate combinations in our October tasting recently here. The chocolate in Marco’s first combination also came from another family business with a great story.
The Cluizel family have now been making chocolate for 3 generations. The Plantation Mangaro chocolate we tasted is a wonderful milk chocolate with 50% cocoa. Named after the Mangaro cocoa plantation in Madagascar, it has strong notes of caramel that matched perfectly with the light berry notes of the wine. It has a strong aroma of buttermilk and yogurt whilst also evoking the smell of warm brioche. It really was a fantastic chocolate – a great choice from Marco.
The Family’s Journey – Marc and the Early Days
The Cluizel family journey in chocolate making started with Marc Cluizel who was a baker’s son from Lyon. He started out in the 1920s as an apprentice patissier where he discovered the art of working with chocolate. After falling in love with Marcelle, who ran a sweet shop. From 1934 the couple ran their own patisserie, chocolate shop and delicatessen. Thirteen years later, Marc and Marcelle sold their business and moved to Paris, but the financial situation made it difficult for them to achieve their dream. Marcelle then inherited her family house in Damville, Normandy. From here they started making chocolates to sell in Paris in 1948. Despite many challenges, their hard work enabled them to expand their business and by 1964, the firm had 50 employees.
The Story of Marc’s Son Michel – Passion from an Early Age
In 1949, Marc and Marcelle’s son Michel realised his passion for the family business. At the age of 16 he became his parents’ apprentice and the 2 generations of the family built the business together. In 1971, Michel persuaded his father to move the family business to a purpose built factory outside the town centre of Damville. The factory still sits on this site at their heart of their local community and now includes a museum that enables the family to share their passion with the public. The museum opened in 2002 with the goal of introducing the public to the culture of chocolate and share some of the secrets of the chocolate maker. As the business grew they began to realise their dream of supplying Paris with chocolate. In 1987, Michel set up a showcase shop for the business in rue St Honoré in Paris.
Marc and his Sisters Sylvie and Catherine – The 3rd Generation
From the mid 1980s, Michel’s son Marc began working closely with his father. The two had a shared love for the quality ingredients and recipes that combined tradition and innovation. Marc was the one who developed the company’s export market. He set up an American subsidiary and also opened a 2nd showcase shop on 5th Avenue, New York. Marc’s sister Catherine runs the very prestigious Paris shop and designs new ways of presenting the chocolates, while Sylvie runs the company accounts and finances.
Strong Family Values at the Heart of Every Chocolate
Marc also developed on the company’s strong values turning it into “Manufacture Cluizel”. The “Manufacture”, like that of the Gobelins tapestries, is the image of their professional know-how. It works directly and sustainably with the cocoa planters through a commitment to fair-trade and a guarantee of quality. Today, all of the company’s work is still done in the family’s home town of Damville. From the slow roasting of the beans to the intricate decoration on the finished products, every step in the process is still done by the community where their chocolate was first conceived all those years ago.
5 Plantations Around the World
The Cluizel family source their beans from 5 different plantations around the world. The Mokaya Plantation is located in the Chiapas region in South-East Mexico near the border with Guatemala and Belize. Also in this part of the world is the Los Ancones Plantation on the island of Hispaniola (Santa Domingo). Off the West Coast of Africa, the Vila Gracinda beans come from the island of Sao Tome. The Mangaro Beans come from a plantation on the island of Madagascar. Finally the last plantation is Maralumi from Papua New Guinea.
A Huge Selection of Amazing Chocolate
The Cluizel family have a wonderful and diverse selection of fantastic chocolate. They have four main types of chocolate available:
Premiers Crus Plantation Bars
Firstly there are the Premiers Crus Plantation Bars. These are full of earthy aromas potential thanks to their painstaking manufacturing process and the family’s unique know-how. Like the finest wines, these chocolates bear the name of their plantation their source beans come from. The selection ranges from a 47% milk chocolate through to a 67% dark chocolate like the Los Ancones, which has a subtle combination of liquorice with red berries, green olives and apricot.
Grandes Teneurs Bars
Next there are the Grandes Teneurs Bars. This range has dark, milk and white chocolates that are made from a blend of the best single origin cocoas. Their high cocoa contents and powerful aromatic hints give them truly unique flavours.
The Gourmand Bars are my personal favourites from the Cluizel chocolate range. They come in a wonderful range of dark and milk chocolate bars with some wonderful flavour combinations that have different aromatic hints that reveal a delicate blend of crunchy and flavoured chocolate. The most amazing of this range has the amazing Dutch ingredient Speculoos at its heart. It combines hints of caramel and cinnamon with crunchy biscuit in a truly inspiring milk chocolate. There are also bars with Butter Caramel, Hazelnuts and even Orange Peel.
They also produce a great selection of smaller dark and milk chocolate bonbons, chocolate squares and pralines that are sold in bags and boxes of varying size. Great as gifts or to taste as many different flavours from the Cluizel chocolate range as you can.
Find Out More….
You can find out more about the family and their amazing chocolate on their website here or if you are in the US they also have a specific website here. The family also have an online shop in French here. If you aren’t able to visit their shops in New York or Paris, you can always stop by Hernando Cortez and ask Marco for his recommendations. Otherwise you can also buy from Marco’s online store here.