What is it about chocolate you love so much? "I love everything about it - the taste, the smell, the pleasure I get from eating it. It's an indulgence - I have a piece of chocolate just before going to bed." Where do you source your cocoa beans? "Mostly from South America - Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia - and the rest from Madagascar and Africa. The provenance of the cocoa is important, but it's also about the plantation it comes from. I can tell by tasting and smelling the raw material whether it has fruit or flower notes - the end result will have those flavours. I spend quite a bit of time travelling to plantations, as it can take two days to get to some of them. But it's not just about the product - I watch the people working there; if they do a good job, I can tell if the product will be good or not." What qualities make a chocolatier? "You need to have a feeling when handling the chocolate, a sensibility when it comes to quality, and passion. My feeling comes from the raw material itself; it's an emotional connection." Describe your creative process. "Every year I come up with a theme in May that reflects what is going on in the world. This year it's ' la folie ', or 'craziness', in terms of having fun. I also get ideas from clients when I chat with them in my shop, and from my travels. Art exhibitions, too, are linked to emotions. This Easter we have chocolate eggs with bows on them, because bow sounds like the word 'crazy' in French [ fou ]. There's also a hen with snowflakes on it, again related to 'craziness'." Did you always want to be a chocolatier? "When I was younger I liked to do things with my hands, like repair my radio and, later, computers. I was supposed to get into engineering school, but I completely missed the date of the entrance exam and had to wait another year. I had nothing to do so I started working in pastry and enjoyed it. Chocolate came later but, when I started working with it, I became really attracted to it. I was intrigued by the texture of chocolate. You have to be precise with chocolate, so it's very much like engineering." What do you think of the markets in Asia? "In Asia - except Japan - they don't know about chocolate yet, all they know is that my chocolates are from France and they want to know something about French culture. However, the Japanese are very knowledgeable - I have contributed to this because I've [had a presence] in Japan for over 10 years. One time, the media there said customers had to queue for six or seven hours at my shop to buy my chocolates. People still queue at my boutiques - although not for as long. The shop at Tokyo Shinjuku is busy every day. "People need to taste a lot of chocolate for the palate to really understand. There aren't enough chocolatiers in Asia, and consumers need to have the expertise to know what they are tasting. All chocolatiers are different, so people need to taste different kinds to educate their palates." What is your favourite chocolate? "Milk caramel almonds because they have a complex taste. Saphir is my favourite bonbon because of its hazelnut cream with a crunchy texture inside, while Manon is named after my daughter and I like it because it's milk chocolate with a bit of saltiness."