Originally posted by chocophile
Cluizel products are sold in over 3000 retail locations in France (most of them Tabacs) so that’s why they are not considered artisan chocolate makers/chocolatiers. Same reasoning with Valrhona.
Originally posted by Alan
I have just been reading “100% Chocolate” by Katherine Khodorowsky, … Khodorowsky lists the following French chocolate companies as “bean to bar” artisan chocolate makers:
I guess that Michel Cluizel’s company, along with Valrhona, is to large to make it on the list.
Which seems pretty arbitrary, given that Weiss is being distributed in the USA in Cost Plus World Market shops (a large national chain), Pralus is to be found in Whole Foods Market in London (part of what now is an international chain – and one finds them in WFM’s in the USA as well, and Bonnat also has widespread distribution.
Now, let’s not be mistaken, Cluizel and Valrhona do have a far larger production scale than the above named, but I don’t think production volume in and of itself should be a criterion of artisanal. That’s simply bashing volume reflexively, under the notion that larger corporate size automatically, almost as a matter of definition, means mass-market orientation. By the volume standards, even La Maison du Chocolat might be getting pretty high by now, and I don’t imagine anyone would label them as “mass-market” or hesitate to call them artisanal.
I think the criteria of artisanal should be commitment to quality (and delivery on results), striving to improve, distinctive individual style, and perhaps some marks of originality. Once these are in place I think size matters not – indeed, a hypothetical Callebaut producing chocolate of a standard equal to a Bonnat or a Pralus I would think would qualify as artisanal. Realistically speaking, there are ultimate barriers – it becomes impossible to source quality cacao above some limits, which is one reason why we don’t in practice see Callebaut being the equal of Bonnat, but in principle I don’t think the size or extent of distribution should be taken into account.