MYTH BECOMES LEGEND
In the late 1970s, Robert Linxe, founder of La Maison du Chocolat, lit up the world of chocolate with a brilliantly fresh approach. A true visionary and trailblazer of taste, he inspired and influenced an entire generation of chocolatiers who followed him. He had an elevated idea of taste, orchestrating the flavours of chocolate like a musical score, infusing it with unique sensations that had never been experienced before.
Totally devoted to his art - and unanimously recognized today as a visionary - Robert Linxe opens his first boutique in 1977 on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, calling it simply ‘La Maison du Chocolat’. At a time when chocolate is mainly known in France as a sweet to be given as a gift for Easter and Christmas, the talented chocolatier’s spontaneously intuitive and bold treatment of dark chocolate immediately earned him a distinctive status in the heretofore staid - and very sugary - world of chocolate.
Dubbed ‘The Wizard of Ganache’, Robert Linxe elevates chocolate to the rank of an exceptional ingredient. He amplifies its subtleties in his ganaches: a filling with a melt-in-your-mouth texture created from fresh cream, coated with a thin layer of chocolate.
One of his secrets was doing what no one had done before, inviting people to discover a different facet of chocolate, not as sweet or candy-like, more adult, liberated from the excesses of sugar and cream. He refines his chocolate assemblages, stabilizes the consistency of the signature taste, and in a truly revolutionary approach at the time, insists on only the finest quality natural ingredients. His expert touch reveals previously unimagined aromatic subtleties, for the first time associating fruit and infusions with chocolate. Raspberry, mint, lemon and other flavours brings unprecedented subtle scents to his creations. His many fans owe him a completely reinvented taste of chocolate, the birth of the French passion for dark chocolate, and a singular art of tasting that lets chocolate express its full range of emotion. Chocolate-making begins to be compared with making fine wines. Tasting notes are replete with terms like ‘powerful’, ‘roundness’, ‘creamy flavours’, ‘long finish’, ‘mouth-watering tenderness’, ‘smooth’, ‘intense’, ‘full-bodied’… The stage is set.
After Robert Linxe, no longer would anyone simply bite into a piece of chocolate - they would taste it with an entirely new perspective. Robert Linxe is rightfully remembered as the trailblazer who transformed ganache into a noble culinary creation.
Robert Linxe would realize his dream somewhat later, when his vision of chocolate finally came to fruition. With his first Maison du Chocolat on Faubourg Saint-Honoré, he established a new spirit and mindset - his own.
His idea of refinement extended to the smallest details, and 225 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré became the new temple of chocolate, shaking up the Parisian microcosm. He was avowedly obsessed with triggering a true upheaval, changing the times, upending tradition to better express his forward-thinking tastes. From that point onwards, he never ceased to disrupt the traditional image of sweet shops. He triggered a momentum that made pastel bonbon stores and pale pink ribbons a thing of the past. He opened the doors to chocolate for the 20th century and created a boutique that resonated with his groundbreaking beliefs. Meticulous and uncompromising, his standards expressed the personality of a new breed of chocolate, pure and noble, freed from an excessively sweet, cloying taste. Word of mouth quickly spread, and with it came burgeoning success.
Equally exceptional was the influence of one chocolatier on so many fellow artisans. The refreshing reinvention of chocolate spawned the Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat and then the Salon du Chocolat trade show, largely inspired by the vision of this uniquely creative talent.
THE PRIME AMBASSADOR OF FRENCH CHOCOLATE
For the first time in history, Robert Linxe also made French chocolate the standard of excellence beyond the country’s borders, as he tirelessly promoted his unique savoir-faire around the world. He was the very first to criss-cross the globe to initiate people into the subtleties of exceptional taste. The international renown of French-made chocolate is the result of his efforts. Year after year, he was its best ambassador, travelling to the most remote locations to explain the secrets of a ganache or a praliné. All those who had the chance to be initiated by him into the fine art of chocolate recall the experience with great emotion.
One of the first episodes in his international adventure was the opening in 1990 of the first Maison du Chocolat on 73rd Street in New York. After each opening in a new country, the renown of French chocolate grew with culturally decisive impact. Tokyo, London and Hong Kong in turn welcomed their own Maison du Chocolat at prestigious addresses.
DISTINGUISHING GOOD FROM EXCELLENT AND EXCELLENT FROM EXCEPTIONAL
Robert Linxe was an initiator and pioneer of new territories, and his chocolates immediately received an enthusiastic welcome. Considered a precursor, La Maison du Chocolat was the first French brand to open boutiques in leading world capitals. The Maison also had a lasting influence on several generations of local apprentices, who eagerly made the trip to Paris to learn first-hand from Robert Linxe in the basement workshop of the Faubourg Saint-Honoré boutique.
Crowned with success, La Maison du Chocolat was invited in 2000 to join the Comité Colbert, becoming part of an elite circle of luxury houses that champion French art de vivre across the globe. La Maison du Chocolat thus asserts the exceptional essence of French creativity around the world alongside the most prestigious names in haute couture, jewellery, perfume, and wines and spirits, all flagships of French heritage and savoir-faire. Robert Linxe elevated his vision of chocolate to the status of an essential value for France.