A former professional in the financial sector has been awarded the title of Brussels Chocolatier of the Year in the Chocolatier 2022 guide, produced by French restaurant guide Gault & Millau.
Vanessa Renard opened her store in Etterbeek at the end of 2018 after growing tired of a career in the financial sector and setting out to learn how to make chocolate.
“After training as a chocolatier and leaving my job in the finance sector, this consuming passion has become my profession, that of an artisan chocolatier,” Renard explains on her website. “In my creations, I try to convey my love for chocolate. I like to combine chocolate with other flavours such as spices or fruits but without distorting their taste.”
Working with spices such as cardamom for her pistachio praline or a bergamot jelly for her unique praline, Renard stood out to the judges.
“With a minimum of sugar and lactose, it is the fruitiness of the cocoa combined with almonds, pecans or fleur de sel that transforms her praline bites into real little explosive bombs,” the guide explains. “As such, we choose Vanessa Renard as our Best Chocolatier for Brussels 2022.”
“Super proud to announce this prize of Finest Chocolatier of The Year 2022 for Brussels,” Renard posted on Instagram.
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As well as Brussels, judges selected a Chocolatier of the Year for Flanders and Wallonia to be included in the guide.
Jannes Deduytschaever from Ghent received the award in Flanders for his “personal oeuvre that stands out for its creativity and refinement.”
“He lets the raw materials speak for themselves, both in their simplicity and in their complexity, giving the concept of craftsmanship a delicious translation.”
Bernard Schobbens won the award for Wallonia, due in part to the way he makes his chocolate.
“Every morning, he makes chocolates there from natural and quality ingredients. Everything is homemade and fresh/ The cycle between production and sale is extremely short,” the guide explains.
An additional award for the Discovery Of The Year was awarded to Xavier Declerq, who makes chocolate in Schaerbeek with cocoa butter and powder purchased at a fair price, which comes directly from Haiti to be processed in the workshop. This award is given out to highlight the quality of certain newcomers.
The full entries can be seen online here.