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Around Faustine’s desk on the Rive Gauche: luxury chocolate shop Le Cacaotier
Next up in the series by our office manager Faustine Cressot, giving you regular glimpses of the neighborhood around her desk on the rue de Verneuil, is an interview with master chocolate maker Hubert Masse of Le Cacaotier.
Located at 44 rue de Verneuil in the 7th arrondissement (district), Le Cacaotier is renowned for its hand-crafted chocolates, made on the premises. Owner Hubert Masse regularly takes home coveted awards and accolades for his talent and creativity. He was named one of the top 12 chocolatiers in France at the 2013 Paris Chocolate Fair – for the fourth time in a row – and gained first prize from the City of Paris in 2008.
Hubert Masse worked with a Swiss chocolatier in Guatemala and also trained in London and Paris. He then went to Australia and, having fallen in love with the country, opened his first chocolate shop in Perth. Success – and nostalgia for France – led him to open Le Cacaotier, first in Enghien-les-Bains just north of Paris in 1995 and then on rue de Verneuil in 2008, much to the delight of local residents.
I went to meet him at his elegant boutique, decorated in shades of brown and blue.
Can you explain your work and your specialty?
My thorough and rigorous training taught me all about achieving the highest standards and the keynote of my work is harmony. I believe my creations have well-balanced flavors that complement each other. I try to achieve refinement rather than eccentricity. My aim is to make chocolates that are smooth and balanced, perfectly finished and presented, and with a melting texture that is immediately identifiable. I constantly strive to enhance my recipes.
Why did you choose this location?
After we opened our boutique at Enghien-les-Bains, I wanted to create another, more central, outlet, in a neighborhood renowned for its métiers de bouche [literally, a business in the “mouth trade”] and skilled craftsmen. So we opened the boutique on the rue de Verneuil in 2008. My wife Susan, who works as an interior designer, created its chic and stylish setting.
Which are your top products?
Our customers particularly like our boxed assortments of ganaches and pralines, chocolate bars and mendiants [chocolate disks topped with dried fruit and nuts]. Apart from that, we mainly sell chocolate creations for Easter (eggs and rabbits) and Christmas (snowmen and Santas). Tourists snap up our molded chocolate Eiffel Towers. Our Montmorency cherries are also popular: we steep them in eau-de-vie for eight months and then coat them in chocolate.
Who are your clients? Just locals, or from other Paris neighborhoods?
Some customers already know our boutique in Enghien-les-Bains and pay us a visit when they are in Paris. We also have fans that make the journey specially or take a detour during a Paris trip. But the commerces de bouche are mainly businesses with local customers. So most of ours are people who live in this neighborhood – and tourists.
What do you like most about this neighborhood?
We just love the 7th arrondissement (district). It’s a location that’s cool and elegant – like our products. We have loyal and friendly customers. You come here to buy chocolate for pleasure, so you can’t help but be charming – especially in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
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