A 'chocoholic' heaven

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 December, 2010, 12:00am

Jean-Paul Hevin has the enviable job of creating delicious chocolates and hopes his customers experience the pleasure of eating them. He was confirmed not only as 'best chocolatier in France', but also honoured for having the 'best hot chocolate in France' at the Salon du Chocolat last month in Paris.

While Hevin has three shops in Hong Kong (IFC Mall, Times Square and Harbour City), a visit to Paris should include a visit to one of his three outlets there or a leisurely afternoon in the tea room on Rue Saint-Honore.

There, fans can see and taste his fabulous creations, from bars to ganache [a confection made from chocolate and cream], macaroons and artistic pieces such as high-heeled pumps, a miniature Eiffel Tower and goblets.

There's no end to the possibilities, which is what Hevin likes so much about the medium.

'I can do anything with it, from sculpting, painting, projection,' he says. 'There is no limit, except that your creations are ephemeral, but that's the thrilling part.'

The most important aspect of chocolate making is the ingredients. Hevin is famous for using quality cocoa and less sugar to bring out more of an intense flavour.

'I believe high quality chocolate is considered part of the category of food products that are not sweet or not so sweet,' he explains. 'The cocoa must be of the highest quality, and for this, the work of the cocoa planters beforehand is crucial. If not, then the taste is not very nice to the palate and it loses the benefit of being good for your health and becomes more what I call a 'confectionary' or 'sweets'.'

Working with chocolate is more of a science than art, as temperatures need to be exact in order to get the best results in manipulating it.

Hevin's career began when he was a boy in the French countryside helping his mother bake cakes to satisfy his father's sweet tooth. 'When he savoured these delicacies, he would become sweeter with my mother; this is also why I started to make cakes myself. I didn't know it at that time, but I too also have a sweet tooth,' he says.

When Hevin started training in confectionary at catering school, he discovered cocoa as a material. 'What made the deepest impression on me was the fact that cocoa is a material one must tame,' he says. 'I felt apprehension in my relationship with cocoa from the beginning. Very early on I could feel the effect of dealing with 'the food of the gods'.'