Haute Chocolate: 10 Questions for Jacques Dahan, President of Chocolat Michel Cluizel

A box of chocolates is always a safe bet for a Valentine’s Day present. And when it’s from Chocolat Michel Cluizel, a France-based chocolate company, you’re sure to impress your loved one. The mid-town store even serves a dessert-only dining experience, with cocktails, hot chocolate, desserts and of course chocolates—certainly a sweet Valentine’s date idea. Here, we spoke with Jacques Dahan, the President of Michel Cluizel’s USA Division, about Valentine’s Day and his favorite NYC destinations.

Haute Living: What’s new at Michel Cluizel? Are you gearing up for Valentine’s Day?
Jacques Dahan: Yes! Valentine’s Day is really big in France and at Michel Cluizel we take love very seriously! This year, we created several new products; the most popular one seems to be the “Je t’aime“ box with 25 assorted truffles… almost a truffle a day for a whole month with 1 day to rest! We have several other Valentine’s Day specific products, and we’ve already seen a lot of eager shoppers in our 5th Avenue store looking for the perfect box of chocolates for their Valentine.

HL: What led you to a career at Michel Cluizel?
JD: It’s a long chocolate journey that started in France about 28 years ago. At that time Michel Cluizel was not yet processing from bean to bar but was already crafting high quality chocolate bonbons. We did some work together way back and stayed in touch regularly, and then when the time came to open a Michel Cluizel store here in NYC, it seemed a natural fit for me to head up operations here.

HL: Where do you like to dine in NYC?
JD: Figue and Olive and Le Cirque are two of my favorite restaurants in New York.

HL: What’s your ideal meal?
JD: For me a grilled fish, a good fresh salad and a piece of fresh goat cheese or brie will make a great start. Then I really want to be dazzled with desserts, Crème Brulée, mini pastries, chocolate mousse and of course petits fours and truffles, with the coffee. Overall, light but with a lot of desserts!

HL: Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
JD: Le Bernardin is the perfect spot for special occassion dining and is great because you can go for a small, intimate dinner or a larger celebration with a big group.

HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?
JD: Soho, because I like the cosmopolitan atmosphere.

HL: What do you like to do in the city on your days off?
JD: Days off? I wish I had days off… When I do, I like a nice walk in the park if weather permits.

HL: What’s your favorite vacation destination?
JD: Cancun. I went several times and stayed at the Hilton there and enjoyed not only the place and the food but most importantly the warm welcome they give you. Everyone, from the busboy to the general manger is friendly, courteous and eager to make your stay a great one.

HL: What’s your most memorable meal?
JD: A dinner at a chef’s table in Michigan that lasted over four hours! Each chef came to detail their creation before tasting.

HL: What are your five favorite chocolates?
JD: I am of course partial to Michel Cluizel chocolates. My favorite selections from our line are:
• The Cacaoforte, a 99% cocoa dark chocolate ganache decorated in gold and pearly white.
• The Palet au The, which is a dark chocolate ganache made with Earl Grey tea.
• The Palet Noir, which is a luscious coffee ganache.
• The Guerande Noir, dark chocolate salted butter caramel.
• Praliné Prestige, a simple dark chocolate with pure almond praline.

Michel Cluizel is located at 584 5th Ave., (between 47th & 48th); call 646.415.9126 or order through the Michel Cluizel web site.

Need help finding the perfect New York City restaurant? Or want tips on cooking elegant meals at home? Contact Haute Living dining columnist Tracey Ceurvels via her blog, The Busy Hedonist, or email her with any questions.

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