The Haut-Saint-Laurent region has everything you need for a gourmet Valentine’s Day, including an interesting selection of fine artisanal chocolates right here in the Valley.
Behind a counter full of dozens of varieties of chocolates, each as succulent as the next, Lynne Lavallée is visibly proud of her production, for which she is solely responsible at the famous Boulangerie Chartrand bakery in Saint-Antoine-Abbé.
“It’s a real passion for me,” says Lavallée, who took over the bakery with her husband in 1991 to become the third generation to run the family business since 1914.
“It’s real chocolate; not the kind you can make at home,” Lavallée explains of her designs, noting she works with white chocolate, Belgian chocolate, and French dark chocolate.
The chocolatier studied baking and pastry-making at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec before deciding to specialize in chocolate-making at the Institut Barry Callebaut. “It is all about practice, because chocolate is complex, so we are always trying new recipes,” she says.
Lavallée remains very involved with all aspects of the bakery despite having recently taken a step back. “It’s very much a family business. I work for my daughter now; she’s just taken over!” she exclaims. “It’s the fourth generation at the bakery,” she adds, with obvious pride.
Along with the chocolates, she helps make fresh bread, pastries, cakes, and ready-made meals for their loyal clients. Lavallée admits that she could work seven days a week on chocolates during holiday seasons, especially around Easter. She says she sees a growing interest in local products in the region, with new faces coming into the bakery year-round.