Born in Ireland in 1972, chocolatier Gerard Coleman started his career path quite young. Gerard was only fifteen when he began chef training at Killybegs in Donegal. Eight years of formal schooling and hands-on training in his home country or Ireland and later Britain resulted in Coleman’s distinction as a quality pastry chef. He worked at fine dining restaurants where the qualities of chocolate began to fascinate the young patisserie.
After testing the waters and excelling as a pastry chef, Gerard wanted something a little different. In 1995, the 23 year old chef travelled to New York City and spent some time at The Grammercy Tavern. He then returned to his home ground and spent several more years working in restaurants in both France and London. However, eventually, the thrill and challenge of chocolate became more than Gerard could resist and he made the decision to invest fully in this new path. Around this same time, Gerard’s wife and business partner, Anne Weynes, was beginning to hone her business skills at the British McKinsey & Co. This would turn out to be an important part of the later development of what would turn out to be L’Artisan du Chocolat. While Anne was delving into business, Gerard has moved to Belgium and begun to apprentice with master chocolatiers. During this tenure, he had already started to make a name for himself among Belgium’s often heated competition.
1998 saw Gerard’s return to the London scene. While Coleman may have broken into the British chocolate business in the wake of another successful chocolatier, he felt that the industry was stagnant and stale and that his best bet was to open his own chocolate house. Still his restaurant roots helped Gerard make his big break. After creating samples of some chocolates in 1999, he pitched them to the famous British chef Gordon Ramsey, through his right-hand man Mark Askew. In just two weeks, Coleman’s products appeared on one of Gordon Ramsey’s menus. Gordon Ramsey’s Chelsea location became the starting point for Coleman’s entry into British society as a chocolatier. In addition, the public could buy Gerard Coleman’s creations direct at the Borough Market beginning around the same time.
Gerard officially formed his chocolatier company, L’Artisan du Chocolat, in 2000. To keep up with the production needs of Ramsey’s restaurant and the Saturday crowd at the Borough Market, a ten-person crew operated an atelier in Ashford. At this time, Anne was still working as a management consultant with Mckinsey & Co, traveling between London and Brussels. However, all her after-hours and vacation time was soon spent engrossed in Gerard’s new venture. Anne was instrumental in making L’Artisan du Chocolat a viable business. Two years after the inception, in 2002, Anne quit her corporate job and became a full-fledged partner, working alongside Gerard with her focus mainly on the business side of the company.
Gerard Coleman experienced both trials and triumphs as his business grew. In the first year the company was visible, he had a unique tobacco and chocolate combination featured at the Fat Duck. 2001 saw the doors opening at the Colemans’ first shop in Chelsea and a contract to provide chocolates that fly the skies with the Concorde line.
2003 was a year that was truly a mixed bag for Gerard, Anne and L’Artisan du Chocolat. While this year resulted in one of the best-selling and widely-recognized flavour, liquid salted caramels, it was also fraught with a massive and publicized lawsuit. Gerard and Anne felt that a competing chocolatier company in England, Barry Callebaut, was infringing on their trademarks and decided to sue. The lawsuit dragged out for the entire year and ate up most of the profits the company produced, leaving L’Artisan du Chocolat on shaky ground.
After the lawsuit was adequately settled, however, the scrappy couple moved forward at full steam. In fact, it would appear that the conflict provided a catalyst, as the company not only developed numerous new products in the wake of the court decision, but also garnered numerous awards in the chocolate industry. By 2005, business was brisk that a new 17000 square foot production building was christened.
Recent years have showed continued growth and progression at L’Artisan du Chocolat. Gerard and Anne made the move to full chocolate refining and production in 2007. This opened their market to include Japan. By 2009 and 2010, the couple had several British shop and stand locations.
I love the range of single origin chocolate bars that Artisan du Chocolate create such as the Vientnam, Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Bali, Congo, Brazil, Java, Dominican Republic and Madagascar. But what Gerard does really well at is create imagintive chocolate gifts for all the seasons and holidays. Such as the chocolate snow globes, chocolate blood and the chocolate Scotch egg. What’s more, they’re not only imaginative, but also taste great too.
Artisan du Chocolat also retail couture ganaches, other chocolate assortments, salted caramels, truffles,chocolate pearls and various bits and bobs. It’s always a pleasure to visit their stores and online shop.
And interview with Gerard Coleman
L’Artisan Du Chocolat: KEiBA Winner
Artisan du chocolat pearls
Artisan du chocolat salted caramels