If Pierre Hermé is the Picasso of pâtisserie, Patrick Roger is the Rodin of the dark stuff. When the Musée Rodin reopened in 2015 after a refit of its historic home, the listed Hôtel Biron, Patrick Roger installed a monumental 4m-high chocolate Rodin-esque sculpture in the hall. The so-called enfant terrible of French chocolaterie – who was awarded the MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France/Best Craftsman of France) in 2000 for his dark chocolate sculpture Harold, a crouching, 62kg cocoa planter – also has nine boutiques across France and Belgium that are famous for their stop-you-in-your-tracks window displays of giant chocolate hippos, gorillas and spaceships, as well as for their fragrant aromas.
Largely self-taught, the 40-something, Ducati-driving Roger heads up his chocolate empire at a bucolic atelier in Sceaux, just outside Paris. There he mixes raw cocoa beans sourced from Africa with garden-grown ingredients such as quince, jasmine, basil and honey from his beehives; the results range from his classic hazelnut and almond Instinct pralines (€38 a box) – an homage to the first bars he ever made – to showstopping bespoke sculptures for private clients (from €50,000). Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier still treasures the signature bear Roger made for him in 2000.
Roger’s large-scale sculptures are first sculpted in chocolate, then cast in the more durable mediums of bronze or aluminium. These works can be seen at his sprawling boutique in Paris’s Place de la Madeleine, and from March 31 to April 18 at magnificent listed Paris mansion Eléphant Paname, where he’s exhibiting elephant-inspired pieces alongside his Vanities, a series of figurative bronze silhouette sculptures (all price on request). For those interested in bespoke commissions, there is no waiting list but they can take anything from a day to a few weeks.
For those who want a quicker fix, however, Roger’s Easter creations will be available at the end of March in his boutiques. There’s a classic egg box of six handsome chocolate praline eggs (€60) and a black and yellow praline-egg-stuffed poussin (from €65), while Tiffany-style coffrets of black chocolate roosters (from €25) contain dark chocolate eggs filled with praline.