I was going to follow others to the Salon du Chocolat, but at the last minute was offered a space on a much more intimate chocolate tour that fellow docent Camille had organized for Context. There was no way I was going to say no. A short (and briefly VERY crowded – at one point my feet were barely touching the floor) ride on the RER B took us to Sceaux, the site of Roger’s first shop and laboratoire of the man who was named Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2000.
It is pristine but not cold (except, of course, in the rooms that are deliberately and literally cold), high-tech but human. There is a garden on one side of the building where some of the herbs that flavor Roger’s ganaches are grown.
Elements of his famous window displays are sitting around the space: A pair of shaggy bears, some extra châtaignes, and pieces of the Berlin wall fashioned from almond paste, authentically covered with graffiti, which are currently in the shops.
It smells heavenly.
The production schedule rotates; they don’t make everything every day. Last Friday when we arrived, lemongrass-infused ganache centers were being put through the enrobing machine: The squares are carefully put on a conveyor belt that passes them through a perfect shower of tempered chocolate.
On the other end, a patient worker carefully garnishes each one as they roll by.
The chocolates are then sent through a cooling chamber into a chilly room where they are packed for delivery to one of the boutiques.
Everyone should be so lucky to work in such a clean, well-lighted space. Also? Post-lunch naps are basically mandatory for the staff.
In another room, three workers were glazing two-toned sheets of almond paste (one layer of plain, one chocolatey) and putting them on racks to set. In the most impeccable dish pit I have ever seen, dozens of the tin boxes into which the finished treats are packed were being washed. And dried: Water is a mortal enemy of chocolate.
The signature turquoise of the Roger packaging is everywhere, including the parking lot. Walking around the space, I wondered, “What inspires this man?” The answer is written on the wall car door:
Patrick Roger 108 bld St-Germain 75006 Paris, +33 (0)143 29 38 42, and 3 other locations around Paris. Website