Boulle x Valrhona: when chocolate meets art


LyonFood and WineShopping and French Savoir Faire

Maxime Manenc
© Maxime Manenc

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 1 February 2023, updated on 1 June 2024

Odd couples are all about the chemistry. This was the case when great pastry chefs from the Ecole Valrhona, the famous French chocolatier, took part in a “Creativity and Design” placement with students from the Ecole Boulle, one of the most prestigious art, design, and craft schools in the world. The first thing they noticed: they have so much in common...

Valrhona’s pastry chefs know all there is to know about chocolate, while the students from Boulle possess a gift for drawing, sculpting, sewing, forging metal, and working with wood and glass. Juliette, a student at the Ecole Boulle describes it thus: “We don’t work with the same materials but with regard to our actual methods, right down to the way we understand our work and creativity, we’re almost of one mind”. Drawn to professional excellence, artisan craftspeople and pastry chefs alike are passionate about their work. They spent five days discussing their materials, techniques, and philosophies. Thierry Bridron, Chief Executive of the Ecole Valrhona, has just one regret: “It’s a shame we didn’t meet sooner”.

„When we met them, we said to ourselves: We have to be willing to try everything! - It was a breath of fresh air to leave wood and metal behind, and start sculpting chocolate.“

The students from Boulle awakened the pastry chef’s curiosity and creativity. “Behind hands at work there’s a mind, and when it’s clouded by a focus on production and sales, creativity is stifled”, Thierry Bridron acknowledges. “That comes by taking a step back and thinking. When we met them, we said to ourselves that we had to be willing to try everything!” Juliette agrees: “We’re more about an artistic approach. They are more constrained by technical considerations. They have less freedom”. In return, the pastry chefs expanded the students’ horizons. “It was a breath of fresh air to leave our comfort zone of wood, glass, and metal, and to see that we could work with any kind of material. We ended up sculpting chocolate, working with sugar...”  

"The creative chemistry between the pastry chefs and the art students produced our gourmet treasures."

Sculpted animal footprint moulds, a life-size rhino head, craftsmanship worthy of a palace... The creative chemistry between the pastry chefs and the art students produced our gourmet treasures. The rest will have to remain under wraps for now: their creations won’t be revealed before winter 2018...


The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…