Swiss chocolatier brings sweet jewels to North Burnaby
Christophe Bonzon's chocolate factory is being a little temperamental. It's from France.
That's meant some very early morning phone calls to the manufacturer to troubleshoot, work out the hiccups.
It's a good thing there's caffeine in chocolate.
After two years as the pastry chef at CinCin, one of Vancouver's top restaurants, Bonzon has struck out on his own. He chose his landing spot in North Burnaby. opening Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie at 4712 Hastings St. just last week.
It is, says Bonzon, the fulfillment of a five-year dream to create his dark sculpted confections on his own terms.
And sculpture is exactly how to describe the tray of bevelled and fractured chocolate eggs, adorned with paper-thin wedges and shelves Bonzon and his wife Jessica are currently preparing for Easter. These aren't your foil-wrapped Cadbury cream eggs.
Bonzon, who grew up in a small village outside Lausanne, Switzerland, first started making chocolate truffles with his mother when he was eight years old. He loved the creativity of adding flavours, the smiles of friends who received them as gifts.
After training at the l'Ecole du Grand Chocolat in Lyon, France, and the Chocolate Academy in Zurich, Bonzon served a three-year apprenticeship in Switzerland then worked in Perth, Australia before settling in Vancouver.
When he first arrived, it was difficult to find even a macaron. But interest in artisan chocolate and fine pastries has exploded in the past few years thanks to the pioneering efforts of master chocolatiers like Daniel Poncelet,Thomas Haas and Anne-Genevieve Poitras.
Bonzon is banking on that love stretching east to the suburbs.
"People want something like this, but they don't always want to go into Vancouver," says Bonzon, 30. "They are becoming better educated about chocolate."
Though he grew up with the creamy richness of Swiss chocolate, he sources all his chocolate from France. Each piece, from a simple round cinnamon and hazelnut truffle to the elaborate sculptures he builds for special holidays, are crafted by hand, using natural ingredients and no preservatives.
As long as his melter is acting up, that mean's starting to create the day's treats at 4:45 in the morning. The results, such as a pistachio ganache, a passion fruit and coconut dollop, shimmer like little brown jewels in the shop's glass display case. Which, he says, is exactly the effect he's hoping to achieve.
"The greatest pleasure you get is when you create something and see the satisfaction in other people," says Bonzon. "Chocolate is an indulgence, a way to enjoy a small treat."
For more information about Chez Christophe, go to www.christophe-chocolat.com