|Member Spotlight: Bernard Noir Chocolate Boutique|
A: I have heard that your almond croissant is a very popular item!
B: Yes, people will drive in from Richmond and order it especially. It’s popular for one very simple reason, many places, you do not get real almond paste. We cut it open and put in 30 grams of in house almond paste and close it again, and put almond paste and almond flakes on top of the croissant. You take a bite, and you really taste the almonds. The good places do it like us, the not so good places, will just cut the croissant open, put some mostly artificial flavouring into it, and put the almond flakes on top with sugar coating, so it’s cheap, cheap, cheap.
A: So as a consumer, we could be tricked into eating fruit flavoured dessert, but not the actual fruit dessert?
B: Yes. The almond paste is equally as expensive as the actual croissant is. You may have to pay more, but you get a lot more for it, instead buying chemicals to ingest.
A: So it’s actually not healthy for you?
B: No. Artificila flavouring can never be healthy for you. Artificial flavouring is chemicals and human bodies were not design for chemicals, as simple as that.
My wife is a professional chef and she’s been trained in Germany, Switzerland and France for three years. They’re artists for innovation, and creation. So is a chocolatier, they are also artists.
A: A chocolatier is an artist? I thought they were wizards with sweet ingredients.
B: You cannot create a piece of chocolate without being an artist. Why? First of all, if you do a piece of pastry, or a beautiful meal, or do some chocolates, you need to have this creative touch. Our chocolatier is a Master chocolate craftsman who was teaching at VCC for over 20 years. It took him seven years to acquire the title of Master chocolate craftsman. You need to do your apprenticeship for 3 years, work for 2 years as a Journey man, then go back to Master school for 2 years. Once that is complete you have to pass a test, then you’re entitled to call yourself a Master chocolate craftsman. Our man is now over 60, and about to retire, so we’re really lucky to have him.
A: Does he just come up with the recipes, or does he work here regularly and make the stuff?
B: My wife is the expert in creating food. Our own brand of chocolates Bernard Noir is now outselling the other three world famous chocolate brands, which are imported from France and Germany.
Richart – France
Michel Cluizel – France
Castle Lauenstein – Germany
Richart is one of the most expensive chocolates in the world, a small 7 grams piece of chocolate sells for $3 in New York city. I keep the prices reasonably low.
Michel Cluizel is a highly awarded brand from France.
A: Are there world wide chocolate competitions?
B: Yes, there are many world wide chocolate competitions each year.
A: Isn’t Belgium the most famous producers of chocolates?
B: The Belgians aren’t so famous anymore, from what I have heard from consumers and in the industry. German chocolates are really good, Castle Lauenstein from Bavaria makes excellent chocolates. In my opinion the Belgians in the past 5-10 years went too much into mass production.
A: Wow, this is a whole new world to me! How come we don’t know about these brands? Do only foodies know about these brands?
B: Not only foodies, but chocolate lovers. We have many that have come in here, they’re very familiar with the different chocolate brands. They can distinguish one brand from another very well.
A: Besides chocolates, what do you offer here at your chocolate boutique and patisserie?
B: Besides the almond croissant you’re eating, you also have Belgian waffles in number of variations: plain, fully dark and white chocolate dipped and half dipped and covered in coconut flakes. My wife's latest creations is a Belgian Liege waffle topped with caramelized Bananas. Please try and you would not stop eating. It is soooo good.
We also offer a number of gourmet sandwiches as well as sandwich and soup combos for lunch. And we started offering High Tea just recently.
We also carry a fine selection of in-house made pastries such as:
Double basked Almond Croissants.
Marzipan Chocolate Marble Cake.
Banana Bread with Walnuts and real banana inside
German Apple Cake German Espresso Chocolate Brownies.
Cranberry Scones with white Chocolate Topping.
Handcrafted Marzipan handmade by our Master Chocolatier. Various Gourmet Sandwiches. Gourmet Coffee / Organic Teas.
Bernard Noir Signature Hot Chocolate.
B: Yes, only 5 weeks ago.
A: I’m glad to see another chocolate boutique store in the city.
B: Yes, that’s what a lot of people have said when they come into our store. We created this after we took a rest for 6 years, after we sold our last business.
A: Were you in the hospitality business before?
B: Yes, I owned three fast food restaurants many years ago and my wife is a professional chef. Later I was in the Real Estate industry. I was a Real Estate broker, back then and I was a developer. When we sold our companies in 2008 in Toronto, we moved to Vancouver. We had a good time, but it was my wife who was pressing to go back into business. She said, this time we’re going to do something in my profession because we never did. As I mentioned before, I owned several food stores.
A: So between the two of you, you have a lot of business experience?
B: I have a business experience of several decades.
A: Your store’s location is phenomenal.
B: This is where our experience comes in.
A: I’m guessing your rent must be through the roof?
B: No, not really. 1,000 sq feet for $4,000 monthly rent. We are located in Coal Harbor, one of the highest income neighbourhoods in Vancouver. The bad thing is 50% of the population in Coal Harbour is in Hong Kong as people say. There are still thousands of people, made up mostly of the middle-aged population.
A: Do you get a lot of female clients?
B: We did a count and it’s about 85% female clientele. The men often buy it as gifts for their wives or lady friends.
A: Yes, I notice you have many beautiful packages on the wall.
B: We offer our customers everything they expect and more. Chocolate season is all year around. It doesn’t have to be Christmas, Valentines Day or Birthday, they make great gifts for any occasion.
A: How much do they range in price? Some are quite small and some look like fancy jewellery boxes.
B: Our smallest package is 3 pieces of chocolates in this tin for $7.50, and it goes up from there.
A: How do people chose which chocolates to buy?
B: Many people know their brands so they choose based on the brand of chocolate. Of course, if it’s their first time here, one of our knowledgeable staff will come around and explain the four brands of chocolates we have and what we have to offer. Then the second question is which one would you like? Would you like to go fruity? Or would you like to go more the alcoholic route? Such as the champagne truffles, Irish cream truffles, ice wine truffles or amaretto truffles. I call them the booze boxes, there are six or nine or 12 in a box. Or does she like marzipan?
A: What is marzipan?
B: Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal, sometimes augmented with almond oil, it’s so delicious.
A: What is your number 1 seller?
B: Our number 1 seller is Pink Pepper 67% Dark Chocolate.
Visit Bernard Noir Chocolate Boutique at 1270 West Pender Street in Coal Harbour, Tel: 604 368-2028, Email:
|Last Updated ( Friday, 12 December 2014 )|
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