In 1948, a pastry cook by the name of Auguste Pralus began a tradition of excellence with the opening of a French patisserie in Roanne. Less than a decade later, in 1955, Auguste invented the “prauline.” This delightful brioche with praline contained pink, sugar-coated hazelnuts and almonds. He soon became known for this specialty, as well as a variety of other delicious inventions, and won a number of awards throughout the years. Auguste’s son, Francois, developed a love for crafting delicious and luxurious chocolates at a young age. He intently watched his father in the patisserie and dreamed of following in his footsteps one day.
After training with his father for many years, Francois worked in a variety of renowned restaurants across Europe and even took an internship in the chocolate department at Ecole Lenôtre in Paris. He also apprenticed with legendary chocolatier, Maurice Bernachon, who is recognized as France’s godfather of the modern chocolate movement.
Stirring a Dream
When Francois later returned to Roanne and his father’s beloved patisserie, he began thinking about the creation and development of his own chocolate. He desired to achieve the ultimate peak of aroma and flavour in his chocolate by creating it from the bean. This would require a deviation from the industrialization that had become an everyday part of the business and a return to the traditional methods of patisseries.
In 1988, Francois took over the running of Pralus and soon set off to expand on his father’s success with the exploration of the fascinating and intriguing world of gourmet chocolate. Francois once again set out traveling as he searched the world for the finest Trinitario, Criollo and Forestero cocoas to create his luxurious chocolates. His search for only the finest and richest cocoa beans available led him to the lush forests and plantations of Africa, Brazil, Madagascar and Indonesia.
Nosy Be Island
It was in Madagascar that Francois Pralus took the idea of creating quality, gourmet chocolates from the rarest and most splendid beans in the world a step further. In 2004, he purchased a plantation on the island of Nossi-bé, or “Nosy be.” Francois said that he immediately fell in love with the island, which is often referred to as the “Scented Island” because of the deep and delicious aroma of vetiver, vanilla, pepper and ylang-ylang thriving on the island. Sixteen hectares of land located on the island quickly became the first Pralus-owned plantation.
Today, the plantation on Nosy Be Island employs a staff of 44 workers and has developed a reputation for producing some of the finest and richest beans available. The plantation cultivates beans for three types of Pralus’ mouth-watering Madagascar chocolate.
Francois Pralus is one of only a handful of French chocolate makers who grow and create their own chocolate from bean to bar. Approximately 100 tons of Pralus chocolate is produced and sold every year. He chooses to work only with the best beans available from various plantations across the globe. Eighteen different types of beans are imported to his company in Roanne from the Pacific, Asia, Africa and South and Central America. Certain varieties of Pralus’ blends reach 80 per cent cocoa content.