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Jean-Luc Decluzeau - A Life Dedicated to Chocolate

Text by Gilbert Pytel- photographs © All rights reserved

More than a profession, an art

when the mastery of a professional turns into art

Born in 1952, Jean-Luc Decluzeau was initially interested in industrial design, but soon decided to follow in his father's footsteps as a pastry chef. He obtained his C.A.P. in 1969 and initially specialized as an entremétier. After a year's compulsory military service, he gained experience with a number of artisan pastry chefs and chocolatiers in the Paris region: "That's when I really discovered the world of chocolate. You can do so many different things with this material: work on flavors with candy, make molds or create sculptures." His meeting with Meilleur Ouvrier de France G.J. Bellouet introduced him to the art of working with sugar and boosted his motivation for his craft. In 1984, with a Brevet de Maîtrise under his belt, Jean-Luc left the craft to become a pastry, chocolate, confectionery and ice-cream teacher in the Versailles Board of Education. For 12 years, he taught students taking their C.A.P. or Brevet de Maîtrise exams: "At the age of 30, I wanted to pass on my passion and share my know-how with younger people. This was a highly motivational period for me.”

At the age of 30, I wanted to pass on my passion to others.

jean-luc-decluzeauAt the same time, he entered a number of professional sugar and chocolate competitions, became research assistant and head of the Académie de Versailles Association Nationale des Formateurs en Pâtisserie (ANFP), an instructor at the École Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie and an advisor to CEDUS (Centre d'Étude et de Documentation du Sucre). Yet his desire to pass on his knowledge doesn't stop there, as for 4 years he co-organized gastronomic competitions for the town of Arpajon, ran culinary courses and wrote columns for the magazine "Vie pratique boulangerie pâtisserie".

In 1992, he added another string to his bow by writing his first educational book on cornet decor, aimed at teachers, trainees and professionals alike. "My job as a teacher, which gave me a lot of free time, enabled me to get involved in these different activities. During all these years, I've had some highly enriching experiences and I've enjoyed myself enormously.” In the same year, he founded the Association pour la Promotion des Arts Alimentaires (Association for the Promotion of Food Arts), with the aim of promoting craft skills and fostering exchange between young professionals and more experienced craftsmen. Still working in the field of sugar and chocolate, the result is numerous training courses and collaborations, as well as collective artistic pieces: "Here again, I've had many years of satisfaction, especially in the sharing of knowledge, which wasn't easy at the time of my apprenticeship".

For many years, he took part in the infamous fashion shows of stars in chocolate dresses


In 2017, with this ongoing desire to share, he made the decision to write a second book called "Culte ou Passion Chocolat" about his career path, his experiences and his sculptures, again with lots of teaching and photos. Always on the lookout for the latest chocolate trends, in the mid-1990s Jean-Luc Decluzeau began a long collaboration with Event International, the company that created the Salon du Chocolat. Of course, for many years in a row he took part in the infamous fashion shows of stars in chocolate dresses: "I also had the opportunity to do demonstration workshops and a range of chocolate sculptures.”

Alongside his training work, in 2002 he developed an entrepreneurial activity by setting up "Hélianthème", a catering establishment in the Paris suburbs, where he worked for around ten years: "I surrounded myself with highly competent staff to be able to offer a varied range that both looked and tasted great. This also enabled me to continue my projects in the world of chocolate and sugar at the same time.”

His first real sculpture dates back to 1989

Fresque en guimauve et chocolat (3)With large premises at his disposal, he was able to develop larger-scale projects. His first real sculpture dates back to 1989, to mark the Bicentenary of the French Revolution, with a 5-meter-high work made of sugar and chocolate. Three years later, a 200 kg pastillage sugar bride makes the headlines. At the dawn of the new millennium, Jean-Luc makes a splash with a 5-meter-long reproduction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, made from a ton of white chocolate. In 2008, he designed an Eiffel Tower with more than 3,200 Swarovski crystals, then, three years later, one of his favorite pieces, an Arc de Triomphe and the Place de l'étoile spanning two-meters.

Ten years later, a commission from the hotel booking website Booking.com enabled him to create from scratch an 18 m chocolate chalet, complete with garden and 100% cocoa pond, to be presented in the Musée de Sèvres orangery! Amidst the chocolate items and furniture, several people even spent the night. A history buff, Jean-Luc has also reproduced a bas-relief of Jacques Louis Davis's painting "Bonaparte franchissant le Grand Saint-Bernard" for the bicentenary of Napoleon's death in 2021. The chocolatier is also particularly proud of his latest creation, a life-size reproduction of a 1927 Bugatti Type 35 made from 400 kg of chocolate.

His latest creation, a life-size reproduction of a 1927 Bugatti

la Bugatti T35 1927 (5)

Grand-Siécle1These days, the Choco Story company, owner of a number of chocolate museums, supports Jean-Luc in his sculptural activities, supplying him with the chocolate needed for his various works. While some pieces are ordered for specific events and then destroyed, others sometimes disappear without a trace: "in these cases, I always feel a little sad, even though I know it's inevitable.”

While each of his pieces is unique, Jean-Luc Decluzeau manages every project from A to Z, from study to documentation research, from models to design and production and from packaging to transport. "After carrying out extensive research based on plans, photos or models to obtain as much detail as possible on the objects or monuments to be reproduced, I'll then think long and hard about its realization before drawing plans to scale. Above all, we must not forget the logistics and these essential steps to complete the project. Then I start sculpting, depending on the subject, like the Statue of Liberty or Imagine: I make up 2 kg chocolate bricks which I assemble little by little to form a huge chocolate block I can carve from. Even though I try to anticipate every problem, I often come up against setbacks I hadn't thought of. Over the years, I've been inspired by the techniques of wood, stone and glass sculptors I've observed. That's how I’ve been able to perfect my work.”

I'm thinking of making smaller, more abstract sculptures

After a well-deserved retirement, Jean-Luc Decluzeau has set up a workshop in his Limours home, where he continues to work on a daily basis. His plans are manifold: "I'm thinking more and more of making smaller sculptures and focusing on more abstract creations, which I could exhibit more easily.” Although very few of his earlier sculptures are still visible, a few can be admired at the Musée du Chocolat in Paris, Colmar or Brussels.


le lustre (10)


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