Alain Ducasse expands his ‘haute chocolat’ universe

French chef Alain Ducasse has created a chocolate empire. We explore how he’s done it and what’s to come

Alain Ducasse Chocolat at Borough Yard
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse Borough Yards Manufacture, the brand’s latest outpost, in London
(Image credit: Alain Ducasse)

In the world of luxury chocolate, Alain Ducasse sets a high bar. The revered French-born chef is a global titan of cuisine who has held a total of 21 Michelin stars throughout his career, and stands at the helm of 34 restaurants worldwide (including London’s Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester).

Alain Ducasse at Borough Yards store

Alain Ducasse at the Borough Yards store

(Image credit: Alain Ducasse)

The chef’s first Manufacture de Chocolat opened in 2013 on Rue de la Roquette in Paris under the expert eye of head chocolatier Quentin Francis-Gaigneux, who works closely with Ducasse to create exceptional chocolate, pralinés and ganaches. The brand has now launched its third chocolate production site in the world, and the first ever in the UK, based in Borough Yards, London. It operates alongside the 38 other Alain Ducasse chocolate shops around the world – in France, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

From bean to bar, Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse has mastered the precise and laborious process required for making chocolate. Starting with the cocoa beans, all the ingredients are carefully sourced for their outstanding quality, and include cane sugar, fruit, herbs and spices. Sicilian pistachios and almonds and Neapolitan hazelnuts are used for the acclaimed Ducasse praliné, which uses half the amount of sugar found in traditional praliné (as there is so much flavour in the nuts themselves, far less sugar is required). 

The brand is the only roaster and chocolatier at this level to make all of the chocolate used in its creations, in its own factory. In this way, it maintains complete control of the quality and taste with no compromise in presenting its particular vision of exceptional chocolate craftsmanship.

Francis-Gaigneux comments: ‘This is where the secret of Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse lies. Making our own coating allows us to go further to obtain the right flavour, without any superfluous anecdotes and with the minimum amount of sugar possible. This continuous quest for the genuine taste of chocolate is our uncompromising motto.’ 

Alain Ducasse chocolate in the process of being made

Alain Ducasse chocolate in the making

(Image credit: Vincent Nageotte)

The Ducasse collection of chocolate bars comprises more than 50 creations that showcase a fantastic array of flavours and textures within milk and dark chocolate. Ducasse chocolate shops also offer a selection of beautiful boxed praliné and ganache chocolates. The full diversity of the cocoa bean is explored and celebrated, and every rendition is unique. 

The brand has the skill and confidence in its art to offer some radical and exciting choices. The ‘Extra Dark 100% Pur Cacao Signature Bar’, for example, gives the opportunity to delve into the very essence of the cocoa bean. ‘La Non Conchée’, meanwhile, is a 45 per cent milk chocolate that has not been through the ‘conching’ process (which churns and smooths the chocolate paste); this bar reveals the texture of the beans and presents yet another delicious chocolate experience.

Alain Ducasse chocolate in the process of being made

Beans in the factory

(Image credit: Vincent Nageotte)

The chocolate is made by hand using traditional methods, and with a meticulous attention to detail. The fundamental roasting of the cocoa beans is a delicate and demanding operation, performed by highly skilled experts who understand how to extract the greatest qualities from the beans. 

Production standards are exacting and every ingredient is treated with care: mint leaves are hand-picked from their stems and fresh lemons are zested and pressed one at a time. Each stage is approached with the same level of rigour – and the dedication to excellence is evident in every bite. 

From chocolate to ice cream and biscuits

Ducasse is also applying his passion, principles and vision to coffee, ice cream, and biscuits. ‘Haute cuisine’ coffee is served at the Café Alain Ducasse on Rue Saint Sabin in Paris, where it’s the turn of the coffee bean to be honoured with high-level expertise. 

La Glace Alain Ducasse opened in 2021, a few steps away from the first Rue de la Roquette chocolate factory, and offers exceptional ice cream in bold and unexpected flavours (try the ‘Olive Oil Gelato’, and the vivid green ‘Fresh Herbs Sorbet’).

In 2022, new perspectives were brought to a French classic when Le Biscuit Alain Ducasse opened its doors (also on Rue de la Roquette). Here, you may discover the signature hexagonal biscuits (known as ‘Hexas’) in a selection of artisanal flours, including unusual varieties such as corn, chickpea, rye, and buckwheat.

Years of research and development as well as passion lie behind all that is presented by the Ducasse Atelier – a perfect demonstration of both the science and the art of the confectioner.

Melina Keays is the entertaining director of Wallpaper*. She has been part of the brand since the magazine’s launch in 1996, and is responsible for entertaining content across the print and digital platforms, and for Wallpaper’s creative agency Bespoke. A native Londoner, Melina takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of art and design – including film, literature, and fashion. Her work for the brand involves curating content, writing, and creative direction – conceiving luxury interior landscapes with a focus on food, drinks, and entertaining in all its forms