Pistachio from Iran, pepper from Madagascar, cinnamon from Ceylon, honey from Piedmont: the list of ingredients in Pierre Marcolini’s range of chocolates reads like a gastronomic world tour.
One of Belgium’s leading chocolatiers, Marcolini recently launched his first outlet in the UK – just in time for Christmas. Setting up shop in Selfridges, the seasonal line includes specially designed snowmen, teddy bears, Christmas trees, baubles, and Santa Claus figurines. He has also designed a special tribute to Paris’ contemporary art centre, a limited edition chocolate model of the Palais de Tokyo.
Marcolini tells us that he entered “the world of sugar” as a child, when he could easily eat three or four desserts at one sitting. He then went on to earn great acclaim as a young pastry chef, winning the title of World Pastry Champion at the age of 31. Over the past 20 years, his focus has been chocolate, and he has built up his business to be the only chocolate brand in Belgian that roasts its own beans. He also works directly with small producers, forging long-term relationships to source the best ingredients, and pay the fairest price for them.
Marcolini’s Flemish-style tall house in central Brussels offers insight into the man and his practice. A combination of traditional opulence and modern minimalism, high ceilings, friezes and moldings stand in comfortable contrast with the bold contemporary art that adorns the walls. The ‘smoking room’ is filled with beautiful books and objects, as well as Art Deco club chairs positioned in front of the fireplace. This is where cigars are lit and Japanese whiskey – another of Marcolini’s favourite ingredients – is sipped long into the night.
Beyond Christmas, Marcolini is known for his sweet and savoury macaroons – especially the macaroon of the month, with seasonal flavours such as bergamot in February, passion fruit in April, and butternut squash in December. “30 years I’ve been doing this,” he tells us during a tour of his factory in Brussels. “But each day I find the same passion. I don’t have a palate for colour or scent, so I could not have been a perfumer, but I do have one for fresh, wonderful products.” Welcoming Marcolini and his “haute chocolate” to London, we’re already looking forward to his raspberry and lemon zest ganache hearts – coming for Valentine’s Day.
Pierre Marcolini chocolate is available in London at Selfridges.
Text by Ananda Pellerin