Jacques Genin’s Chocolate Rose Garden

Jacques Genin’s Chocolate Rose Garden

Living Chocolates
- Jacques Genin’s Chocolate Rose Garden

 

When people are being anxious, worried, pressured and in a hurry to rush forward, it is fabulous for you to taste a piece of fresh pastry or a piece of delicious chocolate. At this moment, any words are superfluous. You just need to enjoy that relaxing feeling.

Jacques Genin is a chocolatier, who prefers people to call him an artisan. His chocolate possesses the charm to melt people.

"You want to see the sparkling eyes and you want to see a glowing face.” Jacques Genin believes that this is the significance of being a chocolatier.


 

At the first glance, Jacque Genin’s chocolaterie is surprisingly unassuming. The chocolate store is located in the famous La Marais district of Paris. However, it is neither on a busy street nor with an eye-catching sign. Inside the glass showcase at the storefront, there are only a few wooden low cabinets, which have the gray letters Jacques Genin written on them. There are also several words in white, which read "nougat, caramel, éclair, chocolate".

When entering the chocolaterie, the rough-looking beige stone archway and exquisite modern dining hall come into view at the same time. This amazing interior design combination doesn’t seem to be unharmonious at all.  The chocolate and candy counters are neatly displayed and illuminated. The pastry counter is in front of the wall with white roses embedded in it. The chocolate and pastry packages are square silver boxes. At the secluded lounge, there are seven or eight small tables with flower arrangements on them. On the unadorned brick columns, there hang light-colored fresh flower baskets. The large space in the atrium opens up, making the store look spacious, warm and welcoming.

Jacques Genin’s chocolate and pastries are characterized by their freshness. All of the items sold in the store have been made on the same day. On the store shelves, there have never been any boxed chocolates. And there is even no chocolate storage room here. Also, this is the only pastry shop in Paris that makes fresh Napoleon (mille-feuille) every day.

With the pounding sound of his footsteps on the spiral steel staircase, Jacques Genin ran down from the second floor. Dressed in a white shirt and jeans, he greeted us and then invited us to his kitchen on the upstairs.

The kitchen is as clean and bright as the hall downstairs. It has large marble tabletops, white walls and white tile baseboards, stainless steel equipment and machines and white-clad chocolatiers busy making heavenly candies.

Here, Jacques Genin described his life story in detail.

At the beginning, in order to make a living, the 12-year-old Jacques Genin became a child laborer in a butcher shop. Later he worked as a chef for 23 years and had opened two successful restaurants. Then due to the simple wish of "giving my daughter the best birthdays”, he started making cakes and chocolates, and he has been a chocolatier for 17 years.

Jacques Genin initially did not want to open his own store. He was very obsessed with improving recipes and enjoyed staying in his chocolate workshop in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. By that time, as a dessert supplier to five-star hotels, Jacques Genin was already a well-known figure in the industry.

In 2007, he found this place, which is the site of a disappeared 17th century rose garden. Its exterior looks like a ship. Although sitting firmly, it seems ready to sail at any moment. Almost immediately, he decided to purchase this place. Jacque Genin wanted to give a new interpretation to it. He retained the stones, metals and wood and restored the rose garden archway. Even the roses are also embedded in the walls, just like they were previously. He decorated the store like a living room at home. He feels that it is rough and original, almost the same as himself.

“What I like the most is the roots, not the roots at the level of my country or my culture, but the roots of existence in general. The reason is that if I exist today, it is because there was another culture that existed before me. I am very attached to the roots." This is also the reason why Jacques Genin has great respect for ingredients. He always uses the best quality Criollo chocolate beans in his recipes.

A lot of people think that chocolates are too sweet. In fact, good chocolates are not sweet. Most chocolate manufacturers use excessive quantities of sugar to improve the product quality, and the increased acidity causes the final products to be overly sweet. Jacques Genin has always put only 80 grams of sugar in one liter or one kilogram of chocolates.

Jacque Genin studies the traditional pastries with the innocent heart of a child. He scrutinizes the recipes and savors the tastes step-by-step. He is completely devoted to his work. He is not opportunistic by reducing necessary steps in the production process or by cutting corners to deceive customers. Jacques Genin’s chocolate ganache, fruit preserves and caramel are all made from fresh fruits.

When you taste a delicious lemon pie, you cannot imagine that the production process of a tiny pie crust is comparable to the process of a sculptor carving a cornerstone. The pie crust is carefully kneaded little by little. When you feast on a hazelnut-almond cream filling Paris-Brest, you do not know that someone upstairs has carefully quartered the hazelnuts. When you happily enjoy an éclair, you do not know that it went through a very strict quality control inspection process.

Jacques Genin spends 10 to 15 hours in his kitchen every day, seven days a week. He never takes a rest. "You know that when you work, but you do not want to do it, you would be working. When you invest in it and you want to do it, it is no longer work, and you are looking for knowledge.” He never considers himself working and never talks about work after leaving the kitchen. He feels that those, who talk about work after leaving their workplace, didn’t make every effort at work. And he is not like this.

The sight of Jacques Genin stirring chocolate in his kitchen, with his focused eyes and skillful movements, can tell you about his honesty and diligence.

Jacques Genin always says that handicraft is manual labor first, not purely artistic skills. This is a skill he has always maintained and protected. His artistry is about the feeling. For Jacques Genin, the significance of the handicraft is the relationship between the products and hands.

Jacques Genin makes traditional pastries. He insists using his fingers to feel flour’s fermentation, sugar’s fineness and gelatin’s thickness and quality. When traditional recipes cannot make him satisfied, he constantly explores a variety of possibilities, in order to create his desired recipes.

The people working with Jacques Genin are also passionate about pastries and chocolates. His disciple Julien used to be a medical school student from outside of Paris. He became fascinated by the store’s environment, pastries and chocolates, when he came to Paris for the first time. He came inside the store to ask Genin for his permission to study here, and now he has been here for three years.

"He is willing to reveal his secrets to me and to teach me his secret recipes. He has taught me a lot, and I'm very, very grateful to him. Now I see him as my godfather." Julien said shyly. He has learnt rigorousness, manual labor and the love for his work here. Jacques Genin is very patient and generous, but when it comes to the food, he requires everything to be perfect.

Jacques Genin has his own set of ideas about employing the right people.  He does not mind using inexperienced employees, even if they currently have no idea about the business. He feels that every profession is good, and the most important is having interests in the work you do, taking initiatives, being passionate about your work, enjoying your work and being dedicated to your work.

He is like what he described above. He is dedicated to experiencing new tastes: the herbaceous taste, the smell of trees and the flavor of cloves. He would contemplate on the kind of chocolate to use to present these tastes. Why does the sour taste of oranges drive away the flavors of cloves and the others? He always refines the tastes he wants. He possesses a magical sense of touch. Before a product is created, his taste buds would tell him the taste he desires. This is an impressive skill nurtured by his talent and experiences.

No wonder some people say that the chocolates, pastries and candies made by Jacques Genin are alive. This is because the colors of the food here are guaranteed by its freshness. The crispiness of Napoleon (mille-feuille), combined with the rich fragrance of vanilla, flows to the tip of your tongue. The desire of the taste buds is instantly met. A sigh of happiness flows out of your mouth.

There are not many seats in the store, but people are all quietly waiting in line. There is no loud music here. You can chat with friends. The desserts are excellent, and the owner generously gifts small candies to the guests. Inviting smiles and warm delicacies all make here as cozy as your own home.

Jacques Genin has made a promise to produce 180 kinds of French specialty desserts here. He has produced 50 kinds by now. People cannot wait to see the other 130 kinds being brought to life from his magical kitchen.

Jacques Genin


Adresse : 133 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris
Téléphone :01 45 77 29 01