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Nearly twenty years ago, in 2000, Patrick Roger won the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier. He’s known not only for his delicious creations, but also for his jaw-droppingly enormous and detailed chocolate sculptures—like a 62-kilo figure of a man named Harold working a cocoa plantation. He has used his shop windows to showcase intricate displays that go far beyond point of sale.
His success in sculpting with the unique material of chocolate has led him to creating in bronze and aluminum. Whitewaller caught up with Roger to discuss how his work in a craftsman’s trade paved the way for a pursuit of artistic passion.
WHITEWALLER: While apprenticing for French pastry chef and caterer Pierre Mauduit, you had your first encounter with working in chocolate. How was that moment a revelation for you?
PATRICK ROGER: I understood right away that I had my passport for the world—to build, to make a living. It’s this material that introduced me to who I really wanted to be and got me out of my shell.
WW: What makes chocolate such a unique sculptural material?
PR: It is I who have diverted it from its utility. By diverting chocolate, I become a sculptor without even knowing the role.
WW: What are chocolate’s challenges?
PR: The technique, the impalpable nature.
WW: For your large sculptures in chocolate, where do you find inspiration?
PR: While working.
WW: Some of your chocolate sculptures have been cast in bronze. Can you tell us about those?
PR: The process of founding was the solution to perpetuate the work. I do not do things for nothing. I do not run after the void.
WW: How has your work as a chocolatier easily translated into your work as a sculptor, working in materials like aluminum?
PR: It’s the aesthetic; it’s the vision, this ability to reproduce.
I think it comes before the taste. Very slowly we change from Poulain to Barry to Valrhona.
WW: Can you tell us about your latest projects for the fall?
PR: I’m opening a shop in Moscow.