Philippe Bernachon ~ a guardian of family tradition

The most established chocolatier in Lyon, Bernachon is under the third generation owner Philippe Bernachon. With his mother being a daughter of Paul Bocuse, he has a status of a prince in the culinary world of Lyon. The rumor is that Paul Bocuse himself comes to visit his three grand children at the Bernachon store every Sunday.

Quite tall and with an impressive stature, other chocolatiers have asked me whether I was scared when I met him. In fact, he has a very gentle and shy demeanor, tacit in conversation.

When did you take over the family business?

My father passed away last year.

Did you work with your grand father Morris?

Yes, only for a little, but I remember the time very well.

What was he like?

He was rigorous. He was passionate, he adored his work. He was also a generous person.

Was he creative?

No, not really. He was more of a traditionalist. When he liked something, he would continue to do the same. He passed away 11 years ago, but he had already stopped working a couple of years earlier. He was tired.

What are some of the new products at Bernachon?

We don’t make new products all the time like they do in Japan. We make the same products we’ve always made. Our clients come back to purchase the same Palet d’Or, Aveline, … I make the same chocolate my father and my grand father before him used to make.

The recipes are the same as well?

Yes.

You yourself have no desire to make something new?

No. (a very gentle laugh) Everything is fine the way it is, so there is not need to change.

Bernachon is one of the few chocolatiers that make couverture themselves. Where do the cocoa beans come from?

Venezuela, Equator, Tobago, Mexico, Java, Colombia, …  We mix 10 to 12 types of beans. Each type has it’s distinct taste and aroma. We have our family recipe. We mix 100 g of this bean and that. When the couverture is made, we leave it for 1 to 4 month. If you use it write away, they are too acidic.

There are really very few of us making couverture. This was my grandfather’s idea originally, to make our own taste. So my father went to Amsterdam to a large chocolate manufacture to study the process and technology. He came back with these machines and cocoa beans. Since then we maintain the same manufacturing process.

Do you go to visit cocoa plantations?

I visited Perou with Jean-Paul Hevin and Stephan Bonnat. That was my first time.

How was it?

Very nice. Very interesting.

Do you know other chocolatiers in France?

Thanks to Salon de chocolat in Tokyo, I get to meet my colleagues once a year.

You only have one boutique.

Yes. Maybe one day we will open another boutique, but we are doing fine the way it is so.

Many chocolatiers when they become successful open a boutique in Japan. Do you intend to open a shop in Japan?

Not really.

Your pastries are famous too. Do you make the same pastries as well since your grandfather’s generation?

Yes. During my grandfather’s time, 70% of sales was from pastries and 30% from chocolates. Now it is reversed. We make the same pastries that were made during my grandfather and father’s generations. We don’t really change the recipe either.

I like going to Salon de chocolat in Tokyo. When I go in January, there are always a lot of people who come to visit our stand. I think this is a proof that our chocolate has a very distinct taste.

How do you describe the taste?

It’s the taste of Bernachon.

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3 thoughts on “Philippe Bernachon ~ a guardian of family tradition

  1. http://www.or-feve.com , bonjour
    je suis chocolatier a st jean d’ardières en france (69220) , nous proposons des produits exeptionnelle c’est pourquoi si vous êtes de passage n’hésiter pas à venir
    je vous laisse l’adresse de mon site pour y faire un tour si besoin
    merci à bientôt

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