American-born Master Chocolatier Chris Curtin, who recently returned from nearly 15 years of refining his craft overseas, has opened Éclat Chocolate, a sophisticated, yet intimate chocolate boutique, located at 24 South High Street, that offers unequaled, world-class chocolates. Balancing the skill and dexterity of scientist, with the passion and vision of artist, Curtin handcrafts delectably decadent chocolates with only the finest ingredients.
As the first American to be awarded the prestigious honor of Konditor (Master Pastry Chef) from Handwerksskammer Zukoln, in Cologne Germany he is one of only a handful of daring chocolatiers in this country to take a step back from modern confectionary methods to create fine, handmade chocolates by traditional means. Now settled back in the United States, Curtin is quickly emerging as one of the nation's foremost chocolatiers.
'I am obsessed with obtaining and using only the best chocolate known to mankind,' Curtin says. 'In order to continue to create the best possible product, I've vowed to never use any cost-cutting techniques that would compromise the taste and quality of Éclat chocolates.'
Curtin sources his chocolate directly from Europe's leading manufacturers, and goes so far as to seek out single origin chocolate - raw beans procured from a single cacao plantation - from South America. While working with chocolate in its purest form, which he maintains leaves no room for error, Curtin is able to produce a richly unique and deluxe end product.
While Éclat is continuously developing new confections, the current collection includes 12 varieties: Ginger, Lavender, Single-Malt Whisky; Aleppo Chile; 35% Single Origin Chocolate; 71% Ganache; Pave du Toure; Gianduja; Carmel Truffle; Champagne; 54% Dark Ganache; and Vanilla. Éclat's chocolates cost $1.50 per piece, $6.50 for four pieces, $17.50 for 12, and $27 for a box of 20. The chocolates are packaged in handsomely designed chocolate and caramel colored boxes, evocative of the fine confections inside.
In addition to his Éclat collection, Curtin specializes and takes great pleasure in designing and creating large-scale artistic designs, often inspired by the seasons, which are constructed completely with chocolate. Some of his recent creations include: a pair of hearts, embedded with 24-karat gold leaf and encased by a larger latticed chocolate heart; an full scale 'aquarium' complete with coral, seaweed and schools of fish; and an unconventional diorama, with a two-foot chocolate egg, housing bunnies, fish and lightening bolts, heralding the explosive arrival of the Spring. Curtin eagerly offers custom artistic designs for weddings, private parties, corporate events and other festive occasions.
Curtin spent nearly two decades perfecting his craft, working and studying the fine art of chocolate in the world's premier chocolate houses throughout Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Japan. He started at House of le Companion Du Devoir, a prominent tradesmen guild, including patissiers and chocolatiers, in France. He continued honing his skills under the world's great masters including stints at Bachman Brothers in Switzerland, where he developed a mastery of chocolate and other ingredients, Coppeneur in Germany, where he focused on industrial and mass production, and Herman Van Dender in Brussels, which he says served as his finishing school.
At Éclat, Curtin combines his natural talent and years of experience. While many of his chocolates are the result of hours of meticulous handiwork, his 'laboratory' is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery that enables him to maintain his own stringent measures. With the floors hermitically sealed and the entrances and exits air-locked, the Éclat laboratory boasts a pristine and sterile environment. With his sophisticated chocolate making machinery, Curtin is capable of mass-producing chocolates for wholesale and private label customers, while abiding by his self-imposed and highly stern quality control standards.
Éclat is open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 6 pm; Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm.
Éclat is located at 24 South High Street, West Chester, PA. For more information call (610) 692-5206.
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PARKING TIP --> Your best option for parking in downtown West Chester are the centrally located municipal parking garages. Park as long as you want and have no fear of getting an overtime parking ticket. Go to the Parking Tab for details. Download the updated downtown parking map. The Justice Center Garage is free after 5pm and on weekends.