Patrick Roger: Sugar Daddy

The French Chocolatier Puts a Provocative Spin On Valentine's Day

“I eat between 40 and 60 chocolates a day,” confesses Patrick Roger, the Vendôme-born chocolate artist. “Am I sick of it? Of course not. It’s like being in love—do you ever get sick of it?” Passion equals success for Roger. In addition to his Saint-Germain-des-Prés outpost, where NOWNESS photographed the artist, he has seven boutiques throughout France, and one opening in London in 2012. Each space is embellished with grand, sensual chocolate sculpture that melds his affinity for the female form with cocoa. Mixed in amongst the references to décolletages is a discretely phallic design. “The girls at the shop complained about all the breasts and said, ‘What’s in here for us?’ So I made this sculpture. Now everyone is happy,” he says. We talked to the connoisseur about the origins of his obsession.

What's your earliest chocolate memory?
My earliest memory is [classic French brand] Poulain, which is ghastly industrial chocolate.

Every year, you prepare elaborate chocolates and window displays for Valentine’s Day. Is it a meaningful event for you, or something commercial?
Valentine’s Day chocolates actually only represent one per cent of annual sales, but we still work on it for over a month. Let’s just say we follow the media trend.

Why chocolate rather than, say, baking?
Baking and patisserie is bloody boring, contrived. It feels like being in school. Chocolate, on the other hand, allows for true creativity. It’s an exact science too, but the artistic part is totally free. 

What advice would you give someone looking to buy a box of chocolates?
When you go to a gastronomic restaurant, you wouldn’t dare customize your menu, you just trust the chef. This is the way people should treat a good box of chocolate: it’s a science, a perfect equilibrium, so don’t mess with it.

Your work frequently alludes to sex. What's its connection to chocolate?
When you make chocolate it’s exactly like sex—everyone’s got his or her own version of it. It is with the same ardor, energy and sensitivity that you make chocolates and love. There is one guy who works for me who makes chocolates rapidly and bluntly, and I can bet you he’s the same in bed—two minutes and it’s over. His wife better be ready.

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