A Visit to Jacques Genin Chocolate Shop in Paris (Video)

 

 

Not long after I’d arrived in Paris, I met Jacques Genin. At the time, he was working out of a small workshop deep in the 15th arrondissement. Inside, he and his team of five or so worked in a very tight space: A large table where they worked sat in the center of the room, taking up probably 90% of the space, enrobing machines churned shiny melted chocolate off to the sides, steaming cauldrons of butter and sugar bubbled madly together, and the workers slid around the narrow passage between the two, pouring, cutting, dipping, and packing up chocolates and caramels.

The chocolates and caramels were only available wholesale to hotels and restaurants that knew the unique quality of Monsieur Genin’s work. The door of the workshop was made of battered wood, fitted with one-way glass so if you were standing on the sidewalk, you couldn’t see in, but he could see out. If he was in the mood, he’d let you in to buy chocolates. But you had to buy a kilo (2.2 pounds) and you couldn’t stand there and decide “I want two of those, one of those, six of these…” You were lucky if he opened the door at all, and even luckier if you had a kilo of his coveted chocolates in your possession. You took whatever he gave you, gladly.

I got to know Jacques and brought guests into his tight workshop. People (including me!) were surprised we could all squeeze in there, but we did, and what was supposed to be a quick visit would usually turn into a few hours standing around while Jacques held court, handing out chocolates and caramels, saying “Eat this!” with an outstretched plate of chocolates. To be polite, I ate as many as I could and encouraged my stuffed guests to keep going, too. Equally surprising was that he would invariably open a bottle of Cognac or whiskey, around – say – 10am, and pour glasses for us. Once again, to be polite, no one refused.

Jacques Genin pastry and chocolate in Paris

Since then, Jacques Genin moved and opened an actual shop and salon du thé (tea salon) at the northern tip of the Marais which sells his lovely chocolates and spectacular caramels. He also makes an edited selection of pastries to order, including the best Paris-Brest I’ve ever had in my life, which I consider the best pastry in Paris. (I recreated it as best I could in My Paris Kitchen, although he uses some ingredients that aren’t available to home cooks.) Because he is a perfectionist, he got overwhelmed when word spread about this incredible talent and his extraordinary desserts, and he stopped making individual cakes, tarts and pastries for sale, although some are available in the tea salon where people can leisurely sip coffee, tea, or his sublime hot chocolate. (The Paris-Brest is usually not available in the salon but you can order one in advance that serves 4 or more, from the shop, and get it to go.)

I’ve been fortunate to have spent a good amount of time in his kitchen above the shop, watching his team of amazing assistants wrap caramels, dip chocolates, and cut the fruit jellies known as pâte de fruit, which are also at the top of my list of the most delicious things in Paris. But of all the things in his shop, it’s the caramels that make me swoon: The first time he slid one of his passion fruit-mango caramels into my mouth, everything changed in my life. The explosion of French butter, exotic fruits, and caramelized sugar cooked right to the edge of perfection were melded together perfectly and each time I go into his shop, I make sure to leave with at least a few of those. Although, there’s nothing like the first time.

Here’s a video of me in Jacques’ shop and kitchen. He’s hard to pin down as he rushes around, sorting through fruits and berries for tarts, popping a chocolate in his mouth (or mine), stirring pots of hot chocolate, and in between, he takes pleasure in giving me a hard time. (Some of those got edited out, including when he tried to throttle me. Sharp-eyed viewers will notice my reddened neck.) Monsieur Genin, as I should probably refer to him out of respect for his position, is one of my favorite people in Paris and his shop and kitchen is very special to me – I hope you enjoy this glimpse into his world.

 

Jacques Genin
133, rue de Turenne (3rd)
Tél: 01 45 77 29 01
Métro: Filles du Calvaire, Oberkamp, or République
(Shop and tea salon)

27, rue de Varenne (7th)
Tél: 01 53 71 72 21
Métro: Rue du Bac, or Sèvres-Babylone
(Address in the 7th sells chocolates, caramels and pâtes de fruit, only to go.)

 

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61 comments

  • December 21, 2015 11:51am

    I love seeing what goes on upstairs! His caramels and pâtes de fruit are absolutely the best in the city, if not the world.

    • December 21, 2015 11:53am
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks. It was always nice to go up there and see the whole process, and everybody is so busy and running around, including Jacques. I did once bring a friend who was a Lido showgirl up there, and he stopped and made time for her ; )

  • December 21, 2015 1:08pm

    Such a fun (and delicious) behind-the-scenes look! Thank you for sharing this!

  • Victoria
    December 21, 2015 1:24pm

    Great video…. Have you ever made pates de fruit and is there a recipe in any of your books? Thanks David!

    • Jessica
      January 2, 2016 3:22pm

      Yes! I too have been wanting to attempt these at home and would love to have a recipe from you to work from, David!

  • Michele Patterson
    December 21, 2015 2:15pm

    Please do more videos, David! You’re charming & genuine. I loved hearing the happiness in your voice as you walked us thru this fab shop!

  • Karen
    December 21, 2015 3:54pm

    Great vid, David. We’ve been known to drop our bags at the hotel and head straight for the salon hoping they’ll be serving the small Paris Brests – please tell us that it’s still on the menu! (Last time we were there, the hostess said we could call ahead to find out on what day they’d be serving the Paris Brest).

  • Shelley Alder
    December 21, 2015 4:03pm

    David , I loved this video, I agree with Michele, just delightful. It really enriched the post seeing Monsieur Genin and your good self showing us all the action. You should do more of these videos, made me swoon. All looked so delicious. As I live in Perth Western Australia, a long trip to Paris, so this Parisian experience was just perfect.
    Thank you both, Shelley.

  • Bebe
    December 21, 2015 4:09pm

    His Paris Brest comes in at #2 in these Five Great, but it’s clear that that was only because it is not commercially available.

    The description gives that away. The reviewer clearly thought it was extraordinary.

    Loved the video!

    http://parisbymouth.com/five-great-paris-brest/

  • AMR
    December 21, 2015 5:28pm

    From all the way over here in Ottawa*, Canada…freezing rain and greyness today, this was a wonderful escape to watch. And fascinating. David you are so very cute and charming.

  • December 21, 2015 5:37pm

    Thank you for this delicious and delightful video! It’s so wonderful to see such passion and attention to detail – and what results!!

  • Fwei
    December 21, 2015 5:38pm

    I love his shop! His caramels and his tarte au citron !! Soo good .. I wish I still live in Paris. Lucky you David!

  • suedoise
    December 21, 2015 5:38pm

    One cannot have enough of Lebowitz in paradise. Bliss all over!

  • Lillian Plummer
    December 21, 2015 5:49pm

    Wonderful post, I do enjoy reading about your cooking and the very talented guests you introduce.
    Best wishes and merry Xmas.
    Lillian.

  • milton gersh
    December 21, 2015 6:00pm

    What a treat to be able to watch a master craftsman at work. A fantastic holiday present. Thankyou. Milt

  • December 21, 2015 6:01pm

    great stuff….I always say that the things I like most about travel are those that I have missed and this was one of them…..great video, great chocolates/pastries…. and I would love to go back and meet madame Acabo…..happy new year

  • December 21, 2015 6:40pm

    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this little slice of heaven.

  • December 21, 2015 6:50pm

    Thank you David for the quick trip to Paris during my coffee break. Although I fear I will be restless tonight, dreaming non-stop about those pate choux hazelnut cream cloud nines.

  • Morten
    December 21, 2015 6:51pm

    Please, David, more videos!

  • deborah w
    December 21, 2015 6:59pm

    Thank you David for this marvelous holiday post. We bought some of those wonderful caramels as gifts for friends back in the states, but our resolve was weak and they never did quite make it home…….

  • Sue
    December 21, 2015 7:26pm

    This shop is magnifique! The hot chocolate is excellent. Also the dark chocolates are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I, too, am in favor of more videos. Would enjoy seeing one of the Sun/Thurs farmers’ market on Bv Richard Lenoir.

    • December 22, 2015 8:52am
      David Lebovitz

      I did a video of me at that market. If you click on the Video archives link at the end of the post, you’ll find it there. (It’s here, too.)

  • Jacque DeWolf
    December 21, 2015 7:31pm

    David you are really lucky to live in Paris! I love your blog, recipes, and cookbooks. And also your sense of humor.
    Can’t wait to visit Jacques.

  • Janet
    December 21, 2015 7:32pm

    I was one of those lucky visitors to his first tiny shop. Thank you David.
    We were indeed crammed in there and enjoying every moment.

    • December 22, 2015 8:52am
      David Lebovitz

      That was so fun! It was crazy in there with all of us packed in, but he was great to spend time with…and have a few drinks with, too! : )

  • Wendy Alden
    December 21, 2015 8:00pm

    Really enjoyed about your adventure with a friend who makes what sounds like THE best chocolate & pastry in the world!
    Always find your stories in Paris so interesting and always make me smile at your passion for exploring recipes, flavours and your generosity in sharing your knowledge.
    My very best Christmas wishes to you and your loved ones from Vancouver, Canada. And it goes without saying, a most wonderful 2016 ahead.

  • Judith Basham
    December 21, 2015 8:10pm

    It is on my bucket list! I have a friend who will be going over to Paris in the early part of Jan -hmm, feel a trip coming on.

  • Sue In TEXAS
    December 21, 2015 8:38pm

    When visiting a neighbor here in TEXAS I was offered a chocolate that looked exactly like the ones in your photos. Very wonderful and so glad I can knowI have actually eaten one of the masterpieces. Viva Paris!!

  • elena
    December 21, 2015 8:40pm

    When I was in Paris a few years ago I followed as many of your suggestions for pastry shops, chocolatiers, and restaurants as I could in the 3 weeks I was there. One of the first was this amazing Salon where I swooned over the exact same mango caramels and pistachio caramels and shamelessly spent whatever I could on them to bring a bag home. Since then, I’ve been trying every caramel recipe and not one has come anywhere close to the buttery flavor and texture of his. I SO WISH he would part with the recipe! …And now, I am jealous and want to get back to Paris!

  • Linda A
    December 21, 2015 9:03pm

    Thanks for the video, David. Love your blog and your Paris Kitchen cookbook – OMG, never have I enjoyed a cookbook so much. I read it cover to cover – such a delight. The writing is as enjoyable as the recipes.

  • Dee Ann
    December 21, 2015 9:06pm

    What a neat video…thanks for posting…love your blog…hope to visit this shop soon…love Paris!

  • December 21, 2015 9:39pm

    Last summer, the studio I rented was on rue de Varenne, across from Serge Gainsbourg’s flat and down the street from Karl Lagerfeld’s photography studio, but the best part was that Genin’s tiny shop was en route to Bon Marche – where I went at least once a day, sometimes twice and each time I stopped and bought myself a little treat. And the shop in the Marais is just around the corner from my favorite Isabel Marant boutique – and since the sales were on, I was there pretty often too. So, thanks David – this video brings back delicious memories ….

  • Lisa
    December 21, 2015 11:22pm

    This is the holy grail of pastry shops in Paris for me. On my recent trip in September I had the hazelnut Paris Brest for the first time and I think it will go down as the best thing I will eat in my life. Would love the recipe … hint hint ;)

    Also, the recipe for his mango passionfruit caramels are online! I bookmarked them with a view to making them with the help of Google translate as I don’t understand French, but maybe you can just make them and post the recipe in English :) Here’s the link http://www.duracuire.fr/les-caramels-mous-manguepassion-jacques-genin/

  • Linda
    December 22, 2015 1:43am

    Loved the video

  • December 22, 2015 3:07am

    Thank you for this early Christmas gift, David! Fantastic video. I hope you’ll make more. I loved watching Jacques, and you, sneak tastes, and those close-up shots of the swirling Paris Brest, and that to die for chocolate enrobing machine. Heaven.

  • Suzanne
    December 22, 2015 7:17am

    When one of your recipes calls for 1/4 cup or 50g of a dry ingredient is the 50g by weight or volume? I’d like to weigh but am not sure if this would be correct. Sorry to ask here but comments on Cranberry upside down cake are closed.

    • December 22, 2015 8:50am
      David Lebovitz

      It’s by weight in grams.

      • Suzanne
        December 22, 2015 4:18pm

        Thank you for the reply!

  • Tatiana
    December 22, 2015 8:01am

    Thanks for sharing this! I’m planning another trip to Paris this coming spring and I have put this on my list of places to visit.

  • elena
    December 22, 2015 8:07am

    Fantastic!
    Thankyou very much!

  • Sandra
    December 22, 2015 10:39am

    Omg – this video literally brightened up my day, thank you, David. I mean such an amazing place- truly one of the many reasons why I love Paris – it still has those boutiques run by real chefs, real pattisiers… Where food is made from real ingredients – no shortcuts, which is becoming so hard to find these days. Absolutely loved watching the video and I do hope you’ll do more in 2016.

  • Holly
    December 22, 2015 1:17pm

    What a lovely Christmas treat! Merci!

  • December 22, 2015 3:38pm

    Thank you, David, for this sublime glimpse into heaven. I love seeing Paris through your eyes, and your story and video here make me want to jump on a train now for one of those eclairs, or Paris Brest, or let me see, maybe the pate de fruit, or mango passionfruit caramel….

  • Lucy Price-Murofushi
    December 22, 2015 3:54pm

    Thank you for a wonderful experience. I am so glad he is successful. It makes me sad that we Americans do not appreciate fine chocolates and desserts. I wish to visit his shop if I ever get to Paris.
    Merry Christmas!

    • December 22, 2015 4:04pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve visited some great chocolate shops in America, and there are a slew of bean-to-bar chocolate makers across the U.S. as well making wonderful, distinctive chocolate. Do take some time to check some of them out : )

  • December 22, 2015 6:40pm

    David,
    We are in Paris and walked up to Jacque Genin’s beautiful shop. The pate de fruit and caramels are incredible. Thanks for adding another great highlight to our visit. We are loving the Marais.
    Ann

  • Carolyn
    December 22, 2015 8:28pm

    Thank you for this. His chocolates are so beautiful and so beautifully packaged. I love how his store in the 7th reflects the clean lines of his chocolates. I brought a bag of his caramels home from my last visit and keep them hidden in the fridge. The passion fruit caramel is also my favourite.

  • December 23, 2015 10:06am

    His passion fruit mango caramels are heaven on earth!!!
    The tarte citron isn’t half bad either…

  • December 23, 2015 1:53pm

    I love your video ‘persona’, David! More videos, please :)

  • jenny
    December 23, 2015 9:27pm

    what is your favorite chocolate shop in paris?

  • Christopher Measom
    December 23, 2015 11:02pm

    Nice piece in today’s paper M. Lebovitz (and a huge picture) . . . I guess now I’ll have to buy a mortar and pestle!

    • tunie
      December 24, 2015 6:30pm

      which paper?? ; )

  • Jenny
    December 24, 2015 8:00am

    Oh Lord! Chocolate and caramel in Paris and it is Holiday time! This post reminds on one you did several years ago about a “favorite chocolatier” of yours opening shop in Paris.
    David, could this be your new “favorite chocolatier”?
    Happy Holidays to everyone!!!

  • el
    December 24, 2015 6:28pm

    Shoot! These video’s are always too short! Would be an amazing universe if you ever video one of your chocolate tours, start to finish, for those who can not attend in person… ; )

  • Carolyn Z
    December 25, 2015 2:45am

    Merry Christmas all!

    May you eat many yummy sweets this holiday season!

    Love this post!

  • Victoria
    December 26, 2015 9:24am

    Happy birthday, David!

  • Jon
    January 1, 2016 1:57pm

    I love Jacque Genin’s stuff! Besides the passionfruit-mango caramels, I love his mint bonbons and his mille feuilles!

    Speaking of which, I’m trying to recreate his mille feuilles at home but I can’t get the cream right. Would you have any thoughts on what it might be? It feels too non-greasy to be a creme mousseline and too ‘short’ to be a plain creme patissiere.

  • adrian
    January 2, 2016 11:38pm

    Great video! Please more :)
    I also love Jacques and have been fortunate enough to have been invited into his laboratoire twice already. It’s not just the art he creates, it has been a pleasure to get to know him too.
    So, two greats in one video! What’s not to like?

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