fter earning a vocational certificate as a confectioner and receiving the encouragement of a passionate apprenticeship supervisor who advised him to “move on up” to Paris, Jean-Michel Bougrain started out at Dalloyau, where he worked for one and a half years. He then completed stints at the “Maison Joubin” (Paris, 17th arrondissement) and “Au Pur Beurre” (St-Maur, Val-de-Marne) before fulfilling his compulsory military service. Once he went back to life as a civilian, he began working as an ice cream maker for Pierre Mauduit. Mauduit became aware of his new recruit’s fondness for chocolate and asked him to set up a chocolate laboratory and create a range of chocolate candies. This longstanding (21-year) collaboration has been full of lessons, both technical and “human.” In 1999, Bougrain met Jean-Paul Hévin, who invited him to head up his chocolate laboratory.
Being a perfectionist, Bougrain loves to work with the finest “vintages” of cocoa beans and takes great pleasure in handing down his know-how to young people who are eager to learn the “tricks of the trade.” An example of such a young professional is his assistant, Alexandre Verrier, whom Bougrain has been training ever since Verrier’s arrival at the Maison Hévin. It is with great enthusiasm that the entire team prepares for every celebration or special event (Christmas, Easter, Le Salon du Chocolat (The Chocolate Show), since these occasions serve as opportunities for coming up with original, often technically complex creations that are designed and developed in collaboration with Hévin himself.
A native of the Chartres region in France, Bougrain is passionate about nature and wide open spaces, as well as the peace and quiet offered by forests and remote hideaways. Indeed, what is better for stimulating the senses and reawakening the taste buds than a quick escape?