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Interview: Julien Gouzien of France's Henri Le Roux

Great food can be found all over Paris, but Rue des Martyrs, a long and winding street which passes through the 9th and 18 arrondissments, seems to stand out especially these days. There, among the bread makers and cheese shops and so many other types of food purveyors, is the great French chocolatier Henri Le Roux. Here and at their other shops one can find among the most delicious chocolates, the creation of chief chocolatier Julien Gouzien, who has held this position for the past 13 years. Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Gouzien and here's what we learned:

Julien Gouzien of Henri le Roux

What is your first memory of chocolate?

My grandmother in Brittany used to prepare a snack consisting of a chocolate bar placed on a bread with salted butter. Actually, there were always plenty of chocolate bars in her cupboards. I think she had these because she experienced World War II. It still happens that I will make chocolate and bread at four in the morning to start the day.

When did you realize you wanted to devote your life to actually making chocolate?

It was during my studies in pastry at Maison Le Grand in Quimper that I discovered working with chocolate -- and I liked it very much. So I deepened my studies in chocolate and started my career.

What do you think makes your chocolate distinct from others?

It is perhaps more complex with more tastes and textures. There is an architecture to the bonbon (base, inside, coating) which one has to understand. To bring freshness and acidity, I will focus on the fruit paste bases. Sometimes, I will play with dried fruits and marzipan.  

Henri Le Roux store in Paris

Which of your chocolates do you think will surprise people most?

Aliberts, which consist of ganache with an infusion of thyme on a base of marzipan with candied lime. This was a creation of our founder to whom I pay homage.

When you're not making chocolate, what do you enjoy doing?

I like to spend time with my kids, tinker, and take care of the kitchen garden. My kids are crazy about chocolates and are happy to have a father who makes chocolates and a mother who makes jam.

Final thoughts?

I am grateful that people can know the taste of chocolate from a craftsman and not just the supermarket.


Learn more about Henri Le Roux here on Grahame's Chocolate Guide:

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