Some may see Jean-Paul Hevin, who came to Japan in 2002, as one of the people who established the culture of chocolate in Japan. He has maintained the highest rank of 5 tablets from the renowned Le Guide des Croqueurs de Chocolat of France since the 2007 edition. We interviewed him about his selection of ingredients and his unique style of creating chocolate at the Mitsukoshi Ginza store.

- Congratulations on the 25th anniversary of your brand. It must be a lot of work to remain at the top of the industry for such a long time.

I don’t consider myself to have been at the top the entire time, but I have aspired to keep on changing and progressing which must have helped. I continue to challenge myself with the utmost standards of quality, flavor and expression. At the same time, I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and this gives me great happiness and satisfaction. This aspect also contributed. Firstly, it is important to have fun and feel happy. Secondly, it is important to work based on strict standards. Luckily, this approach worked well for me.

- Could you please elaborate on the strict standards?

When it comes to flavors, I truly enjoy the process of tasting, which may be in part due to my personality. The essential thing is that what I taste must be remembered even after a week. It can’t just be delicious and fun, but also memorable.

- I often hear you use the phrase “like a couturier brand.” What is couture for you?

Chocolatiers must remain strict if they want to surpass a certain level. Without this strictness, it is difficult to create a brand’s style and image.

- So you mean to say that it expresses your attitudes towards work?

I find that creating a new lineup of chocolate is similar to designing a new collection of clothes. Both create something based on a seasonal theme. I work with an artistic director to create new products, and this is also similar to the fashion world. More like I design my own presentation and project, just as the way couture maisons create their clothes. Actually, our artistic director Jean Oddo is also flourishing in the fashion world. In that sense, I am connected to couture. I do think though that this type of approach is quite unique in the world of chocolate.

- Do you sometimes gain inspiration from fashion?

I believe fashion is attractive because it has its own style and it is the style that moves and amazes people. Anything can be the sources for my creation, and fashion is one of many things which inspire me. Fashion shakes me up with its style. So, I want to arouse people’s emotion by expressing my style with chocolate and cakes.

- What types of fashion do you like?

People often think I like chic things, but not necessarily. For me, context is important. Yesterday, I went shopping for shoes for my son who is almost 2 years old. I ended up buying a colorful set of shoes in the colors chocolate brown, blue, red and yellow. I don’t think many people would go for this much color, so as you can see, it is not as if I don’t like colorful fashion.

- I see. I also happened to see one of your chocolates imaged after the male body. I see the humorous side of you expressed in this.

Yes true, that design shows my playful side, which is often reflected in my works.

To be continued into 2/2.