“For me, the most important thing is to lead a high-end chocolate house that does not sleep on its achievements, doing the same thing for 100 years. To be authentic is to be entirely in the moment, in the modern world, assuming the legacy of the past. That’s why I still make old chocolate specialities with the products of today, and I constantly innovate by launching new recipes.
My work reflects what I am. I am lucky to be balanced by nature, to be fairly stable and I am very careful to keep my feet on the ground. When one becomes “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”, (which is the supreme distinction in a trade), there are two solutions. We may say, “I am the best! The others are underneath now!” Or we may choose another option saying: “I will have to start again!” I took the contest as a start, not as an end. And I think I can always improve and that’s true. Being recognized is very pleasant, but it is also dangerous. Thus, every morning, I have a ritual to stay in my place; I sweep past the store and tap the carpet in front of the shop. This brings me back to reality, and it is also my grounded side.
Authenticity means being connected to its environment and its roots… And these are in the character and spirit of the Jurassians: a love of well done work and a love of precision. If I was not an Arboisian, if I didn’t have my story rooted behind me, I would not do things the same way. Of that, I am sure ! And I will not have the same convictions and the taste of the local products. In the end, I have an extremely personal vision of chocolate, which is diverse and very varied. The chocolates I create come from plants, flowers or fruits specifically from the Arbois region. You can say that my chocolates have “a story to tell”. And when you eat an assortment, you have the reflection of my personality through everything I do. And I do not seek to appear anything but who I am. I have this simplicity and I explain what I do. Those who do not cling to the mind or who do not have that sensitivity, for me, it does not matter.
I attach great importance to hand made craftmanship. It’s a pleasure for me to work with my team, at early 6am, and work with my hands. Of course, I’m tired at the end of the day. Of course, I am very demanding with my collaborators. But something mysterious happens when it is a human, and not a machine, who works with chocolate. People bring an extra soul, even more if they put love there. And we feel a real difference. Then, when you have tasted a certain level of quality, you can hardly turn back … The strength of my products is that once you have tasted them, usually you come back!
Innovation is fundamental. I have lots of ideas constantly. Both to make new chocolates, or to evolve my business. Sometimes, some are complicated to achieve; I start them, to get back to them later. What stimulates me is having these issues and dealing with complexity. I also evolve personally, while trying to remain modest and simple. The chocolates I make now are more sophisticated than the first ones. Fortunately, otherwise it would be repetition! The advantage of the experience has allowed me to have more confidence in myself. And when success arrived, it strengthened me and this is really a good motivation. When people tell me: “I do not like chocolate, but I like your chocolates. That’s great!”
Regarding the whole industrial approach in my trade – for example, selling oneself as a brand to open more boutiques and increase the turnover? It does not irritate me, but I know what I want, and I do not hesitate to say that I am making something that is different. The type of chocolate that I do, the way I do it, is not suited to mass production because it implicates decreasing the quality of craft work and simplifying the recipes to become adapted for conservation. I refuse to do that! Then I have a kind of wisdom: “What’s in it for me?” I have such a quality of life here that many appreciate when they visit me. And I also have a very strong connection with this region and this house.
In the end, the most important thing is to be serene in what we are, and in what we want. We must avoid being fashionable, because fashion is ephemeral, and try to be who we are, without copying others and without worrying about their opinion. It’s not easy, especially at the beginning. One doubts, one wonders, “Am I right to want to do things differently? How will this be received? “. But this may require levels of boldness and a certain strength of character. Today, when I am told that the booklet of my products is “complicated”, I reply, exaggerating of course, that “they are not chocolates for the “misunderstanding”, but for those who taste them with their senses. So much the worse for those who do not understand! “.
The most important thing in life is to find the material that allows you to express your sensitivity. I had that chance! And I always look for seeking new possibilities because they are infinite, getting satisfied with myself only when I succeed in complexity. It is therefore transforming and developing the profession that is the most important. Yes… leaving its mark in the experience of people, and in the profession.”
Interview with Carine Mouradian, on March 3, 2017 in Arbois.