CHOCOLATE SHOP SUCCESS STORY
1- Could you tell us about your professional career?
Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to be a pastry chef. Even though no one in my family came from that profession, I really enjoyed baking with my mom. My first job was at a local pastry store in the Netherlands, and I was studying the basics and theoretical side of things at a pastry school in Amsterdam. I only made me wiser and stronger. After that, I worked for two more pastry stores in the Netherlands and participated in several competitions both nationally and internationally.
Then finally, five years ago, I decided to join Fauchon Paris in Kuwait. Fauchon had four outlets at the time, and I ran the kitchens in Crowne Plaza Hotel. We opened up another beautiful store, where we made a name for ourselves serving interactive plated desserts, made in front of our customers.
I left Fauchon and Crowne Plaza after two and a half years. Together with three very enthusiastic colleagues from Kuwait, we started a chocolate company named Lutece Chocolat.
We built up a solid reputation in Kuwait, opened up three more branches, and delivered chocolate throughout the whole GCC.
2- How did you end up specializing in chocolate?
Chocolate fascinated me from the very beginning of my career. It’s such a beautiful and natural product that can be used in so many products.
The varieties and combinations are endless.
There was a time when I thought sugar would be my main specialty. Back in the Netherlands, lots of people understand the art of chocolate but there are only a few who know how to work with sugar. But when I joined Fauchon Paris in Kuwait and made my first sugar showpiece for a buffet, the conditions were terrible in terms of humidity. The amount of work you put in a sugar showpiece just to see it fade away that fast makes you want to cry.
3-To what do you owe the success of your store/restaurant?
I believe we earned our reputation on the market through consistently high quality chocolates, our motivated management team, and our dedicated staff. We listen closely to our customers and are flexible when it comes to their needs.
In Kuwait, a lot of our customers want their chocolates to match their wedding theme or baby shower theme. They love to present something new to their loved ones, and this is such a great thing to strive for.
Continuously renewing our ranges, and following trends in both fashion and the food industry is what keeps our customers coming back for more.
4- What are your plans for your store/restaurant?
I would love to do something interactive in the store, such as making chocolates in front of the customers. The resulting aromas are amazing, and it helps customers see how chocolate is made, and better interact with us and with our products.
Entering a store and immediately being surrounded by the smell of chocolate is like walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
These kinds of tricks are also used in fashion, with stores like Abercrombie & Fitch. You can smell the stores several meters away, and whether you like it or not, it’s a scent that attracts customers and gets people talking.
We also need to prepare for the season after Ramadan with a range of new creations and flavors, and a nature collection. As we all know, organic, gluten-free and azo-free products are all the rage at the moment, so we’ll definitely be working on incorporating all that too!