Love at First Bite

By: Jessie Kuhn | Staff Writer
On: January 23, 2016

As cliché as it sounds, the love affair with Ghyslain chocolates starts not just at first bite, but at first sight. Each piece of chocolate isn’t just meant to be savored (or devoured), but indulged from the hand-painted dark chocolate shell to the flavorful ganache encased inside. It’s a world-class experience brought to us from Ghyslain Chocolatier, Inc, which is less than 70 miles from Dorothy Lane Market.

It’s in the small town of Union City, Indiana, that you’ll find the big-city personality of Ghyslain Maurais, foodie extraordinaire, chef, and renowned chocolatier. It’s not just the thick French accent that conveys instant authenticity (although it helps), but it’s the knowledge, the passion, and the drive that’s brought him literally around the world and to our neighboring state where he set roots for Ghyslain Chocolatier nearly 20 years ago.

Born in Québec City, Ghyslain spent several years as the head chef for the Québec ambassador at the Canadian Embassy in London and New York City. It was during his service in London that the ambassador said that he needed to cut back on the desserts from his daily menu in an effort to curb his weight. “I didn’t like that,” says Ghyslain with a smile. So he used his vacation time to head to Zurich to enhance his chocolate-making knowledge. After that, his creativity was unleashed at the embassy as it was a way for him to provide bite-sized morsels for the ambassador and his guests. Later, Ghyslain continued to work as the ambassador’s chef at the embassy in New York City. He made it his personal mission to expand his knowledge any chance he could, often spending his vacation time working alongside premier chefs at top restaurants. “If you are there, you may as well do it,” he says. “It’d be silly not to.”

In the mid-90s, he found himself back in Canada, but he longed to return to the United States. He saw a listing for a head chef position for the Ohio-based Inn at Versailles, which is heavily influenced by French culture. It was there that he met his wife, Susan, whose family was from Union City, where the two moved and Ghyslain started making his chocolates from the kitchen of a farmhouse in 1998. Dayton Daily News, food critic Ann Heller eventually caught wind of Ghyslain, and wrote about him in 1999. We at Dorothy Lane Market had to taste the chocolate sensation and began our long-lasting partnership with Ghyslain around February that year. That Valentine’s Day, Ghyslain recalls a line forming all the way down the gravel driveway leading up to the charming farmhouse painted in white.

The company eventually grew out of the farmhouse and expanded to include a number of culinary endeavors, but it’s still a place that Ghyslain looks at with great pride, as it was within those walls that his vision took flight. It was there that he made the decision to not just concentrate on unique flavor concoctions, but he became one of the first to master the art of hand-painting chocolates in a scalable way. “Inspiration comes from desperation,” Ghyslain says, as he knew at the time that he had to prove that the small-town based chocolate shop could hold a unique sweet spot in the market alongside big-city chocolatiers.

As February approaches, we aren’t just celebrating our love for the fine chocolates by Ghyslain, but we’re celebrating 17 years of sharing his passion at Dorothy Lane Market!