Born in lockdown
We’re a young company with a long past, and a small team with a big heart. Here, we share the story of how it all began... Did you know that the Belgian Chocolate Makers company is born in the course of a complicated period, during the corona crisis and the first Belgian lockdown?
"The coronavirus pandemic has intensified what was already a challenging time, making the need for self-expression ever more vital. Lockdown created a break in my routine that forced me to focus on my long-term goals and this is the reason why I decided to launch my own chocolate brand."
How an Italian teenager decide to become a chocolate maker in Belgium?
Elisabetta Passafaro is our chef chocolatier. At 24 years old only, she already launched two stores, a training centre and two workshops in the heart of Brussels. She created her own chocolate brand, Chocomeli, and even her own chocolate selection using pure origin cacao from Congo and Philippines. Now she starts to expand her business outside Belgium.
Our chocolate maker is graduated from Accademia Maestri Cioccolatieri Italiani. At the end of her training session, she has been awarded Master 2018 with an amazing 94/100 notation. During her studies, she traveled abroad and made an incredible, exciting and educational journey in Brazil that take her through the world of cocoa. She talked to the cocoa growers and producers, slept in the jungle, share meals with the Amazons and enjoyed some great chocolate tastings with many South American researchers. It is precisely during this experience that Elisabetta realized that chocolate was her passion and tattooed a big cocoa pod on her shoulder!
From an Erasmus internship to a success story in Brussels...
Back to Europe, Elisabetta wanted to learn more about Belgian chocolate. She involved herself in an Erasmus+ internship program and, mid 2018, she arrived in Belgium. She already had an extensive experience in chocolate making and she did her internship at the Zaabar chocolaterie. Does destiny exist? Zaabar was declared bankrupted a few days before the first lock down. End of March 2020, when three and a half billion people were confined in some way around the planet, Elisabetta lost her job but stayed in Belgium and turned her life into a big challenge. She decided to setup a new company, to launch Chocomeli, her own chocolate brand, and to share her true passion for handmade chocolate.
Elisabetta then partnered with Patricia and Stéphane, two colleagues met at Zaabar chocolaterie. All together, they started to build an exciting and promising challenge. Patricia managed several stores in the past and she is also graduated in pastry. Stéphane has a long experience of international business management. Within a few days, they found a suitable building in the heart of Brussels to launch their first chocolate store.
Using their own savings, and without investors, they setup the company in a few days. The administrative and financial paperwork having been sorted out, Elisabetta, Patricia and Stéphane committed to build a sustainable business with a legacy they could be proud of. That’s where our 100% handmade in Brussels promise comes in. From the very first days, they received a great support from ING bank, Grenke and Finance Brussels. The moment of truth arrived and, within a few weeks, they created Chocomeli, their own brand. The small team learned quickly about overcoming adversity as they had to go thru a lot of issues but finally...
The adventure finally became a true challenge...
The dream came true on the 8th of June 2020 when their first store opened in the heart of Brussels!
With everything ready to go, the small team bit the bullet and ordered 4 tons of cocoa in one go - without having any customers! (Truth be told, they were a little scared they’d have to eat the chocolate themselves.) Today, more than two year after, business is really good! Thanks to our loyal clients, The Belgian Chocolate Makers is growing fast: using our e-commerce website we’re selling handmade, premium and tasty Belgian chocolate in more than 35 countries and – due to popular demand – we now make homemade macarons and ice creams too. We’re working hard towards our sustainability goals and we’re supporting the farmers of the plantations where come from the cocoa beans used to produce our premium Belgian chocolates. Our ambition is big so our effort should be even bigger!
We are the only certified artisan chocolate makers in Brussels city.
At The Belgian Chocolate Makers, our handmade and honest chocolate is produced by our chocolate maker, Elisabetta Passafaro. Don't look for industrial chocolates in our store, we don't have any! We are one of the very few true artisan chocolate makers in Brussels; far away from the candies stores of Grand'Place or even the numerous industrial brands who pretend to be local. In fact, we are even the only certified handcraft chocolate maker within Brussels city.
That information can be easily checked from the official website www.lesartisans.be.
This label gives the craftsmen who ask for it a legal recognition of their trade. It confirms the authentic character of their activity, the manual aspect of the work and the craft know-how. Any request for recognition can be submitted to the Artisans Commission from FPS Economy. Since its creation in 2016, this label has already listed more than 1100 craftsmen in Belgium including The Belgian Chocolate Makers!
How we select, import and roast our cacao beans.
At the origin of the taste, there is the bean, and all the work that lets explode all its flavors. From roasting to conching, here is the birth of aromas. We partner with another certified artisan chocolatier, François Deremiens, and a local and vibrant cacao importator, Silva Cacao, to explore and propose to our clients the finest and original beans from all over the world. From the Big Monkeys Valley in Congo to the Tsachilas indians villages in Ecuador, we are selecting some particular and rares cocoa beans. A discovery of nuances and colors in the heart of plantations. The roasting is made by François and his team at his factory located in Jamoigne (Belgium) and then the final product is handcrafted in our Brussels stores.
We could buy our chocolate from industrial firms like Valhrona, Puratos or Barry Callebaut. After all, many of the chocolate makers around us do that and still advertise themselves as artisans... We prefer to protect our planet and so, we partner with François Deremiens, another certified artisan chocolatier, and a local importator, Silva Cacao. Thanks to Silva Cacao we can work with specialty cacao with an identity, directly sourced from its origins, while taking care of flavour, forests, farmers and the future. François Deremiens, like Elisabetta, is an autodidact in the world of chocolate and we love that! From a passion, from a hobby to the beginning, he made it his job. From a small workshop of 18m² in 2005, his company has expanded to operate on two workshops of about 400m². In 2013, he was taken over by Gault et Millau among the 25 best chocolatiers in Belgium and among the 25 best pastry chefs in Belgium. And in 2016, among the 10 best chocolatiers and the 10 best pastry chefs. We are proud to partner with these great people to create our chocolates and to select the best cocoa beans to use for our production.
From the macarons to the ice creams, everything is 100% homemade!
All our handmade chocolates are produced in our stores by our own chocolate makers and sold under our brand Chocomeli. If you refer to the first name of our chocolate maker then you should easily understand the reason why the brand Chocomeli came out of our imagination...
Our macarons are all handmade by Frédérique, the creator of Milly Macarons, they are very delicious and all gluten free. Milly Macarons makes sweet and savoury macaroons in the purest artisanal tradition. All our macaroons and ganaches are made "in house" with fresh, quality, natural products and without any additives, artificial flavours or taste enhancers. Frédérique is also organizing some macaroons classes at The Belgian Chocolate Makers.
Our ice creams and sorbets sold in our Store store are also handmade with high quality ingredient by Marco Pacciti in Uccle. In his authentic ice cream bar, you can discover him, a true master ice cream maker, preparing his recipes almost in front of you. A recipe prepared for generations as in the past, like our good grandmother's recipes. Marco Pacitti's ice creams are distinguished by their exclusive composition of whole milk, cream and egg yolks. An artisan ice cream maker who puts all his love for the product at your service and that's exactly why we selected him for our ice creams and sorbets.
Our ice cream popsicles sold at our Place Royal store are handmade by Elisabetta, our chocolate maker, using the best ingredients. She makes different flavours every week but our best sellers are of course the chocolate ones!
- Our staff are genuine chocolate makers. Our production is local and 100% handmade.
- In our stores, you can discover everything our chocolate makers do. You can enjoy their creativity and know how.
- We are the only true certified artisan chocolate maker in the city of Brussels !
- We work with chocolate made from origin cacao only. We do not use industrial chocolate !
- We guarantee 100% traceable supply chain for the cacao you will use and taste.
- The cacao beans we buy does not involve deforestation or child work and provide a good level of revenue to the farmers.
- We are not part of an industrial group but a true artisan chocolate maker.
In store, to complete our handmade chocolate collection, we also propose to our clients some homemade sweet things:
- Homemade macarons without gluten.
- Delicious Brussels waffles homemade with the best ingredients and cooked at the request.
- Natural and bio fruit juices from Belgium.
- Awesome artisanal ice creams and sorbets homemade with the crazy natural ingredients.
Everything 100% natural. Everything 100% homemade with passion in Brussels.
We have gold in our hands! We are a true handcrafter!
You are very demanding and your purchases are always smarter. That's why you look for quality.
- Products that are good for your health.
- Products that will last over time.
- Gifts that you can give with confidence.
We are bakers, ice-cream makers, chocolate makers, jewellers, soap makers, florists, designers, brewers and even wine makers. We are artisans in Brussels! Far from the anonymous and standardised consumerism, we have chosen to perpetuate our ancestral know-how, the heritage of our city. And we are reinventing the world of tomorrow. The one you aspire to. Because like us, you don't compromise. And you know that even if you pay a little more, in the end it costs you less. That's why you choose us and the 250 other certified craftsmen of Brussels. Brussels craftsmanship. More sustainable. More local. More fair. More Brussels.
Start a new career with us! Join our team and become a chocolate maker.
Elisabetta, our chocolate maker, is assisted by several learners and/or trainees from local schools to produce our handmade chocolates. We partnered with Actiris Brussels and local schools like EFP and Ceria to welcome some new trainees and apprentices every year. As well, regular Erasmus+ trainees are enjoying a few months with us all along the year. We also collaborate with Hub.Brussels in the program Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur.
We recruit trainees and apprentices from local schools under supervision of SFPME.
Our licence number is B/11587/A10/W00.
Our licence number is B/11587/A10/W00.
We have a generous, gourmet and creative profession. Pralines, truffles, caramels, fruit jellies, ice creams, and many other delicacies are made by us for the greatest pleasure of gourmets! During your apprentice period, under our responsibility, you will participate in the production of a variety of confectionery, chocolate and ice cream products. You will learn a precise and creative job that requires real craftsmanship. You will discover how to use the raw materials such as cocoa and chocolate and how to work with them. Every day you will work with raw materials, heating and cooking them and combining them with other, sometimes unexpected, ingredients. This way, you will create a variety of products with classic or original tastes. You will be able to use scales, spatulas, thermometers and other mechanical equipment to make these quality products. You will know and respect the rules of hygiene and use the appropriate preservation procedures for each product. You will also know how to package and store the finished products. At the end of your apprentice period, you will have a good understanding of the production techniques for all products and will be able to adapt to changes in the industry. You will learn to be creative and will be able to develop new recipes that will delight your future customers.
If you wish to apply for an internship with us (2 years) please feel free to email your CV and motivation letter to [email protected].
After our four locations in Brussels, we plan to open our fifth store in Montreal.
We started our activity and opened our first store in the heart of Brussels in mid 2020. One year after, we needed to push the walls a bit so we have launched our workshop area in the adjacent building and we decided to open it to our clients on a daily basis. We wanted our visitors to make some chocolates with us and explore the origins of our cacao. This concept of chocolate workshop became very popular after a few months. In 2021, we welcomed 5.000 participants in our chocolate workshops. In 2022, they were 15.000 participants. This year, we have already celebrated our 22.000th participant by end of July!
Currently, we are welcoming an average of 700 participants every week.
End of 2022, we opened another store in the center of Brussels and we developed the same concept of store combined with a workshop opened daily to our visitors. The success of the second location at Place Royale happened immediately.
We have now a great envy to explore the world and to install our brand in a few countries. It becomes obvious that we need to bring our brand abroad. We learned a lot from our e-commerce sale results: Canadian residents are clearly one of our best clients abroad. With these figures in mind and other considerations, we took the decision that our third store should be located in Canada, and especially in Montréal.
We are currently working with Hub.Brussels and the Belgian embassy in Montréal to prepare one of our most ambitious project since we created our brand.
Enjoy our chocolate workshops every day !
Making chocolate is taking a lot of our time but we also love to share our passion. For this reason, we organize every day some public workshops. We can host up to 28 guests at our Sablon location and 24 guests at our Place Royale location during these daily events. We also organize some private workshops, teambuidling events, bachelorette parties, kids birthday parties and much more!!!
More details about our workshops are available here.
There is currently a very high demand for our chocolate workshops. For the last year we have welcomed an average of 700 participants every week! We sell our chocolate workshops from many apps like GetYourGuide, TripAdvisor, Viator, AirBnb Experiences but it is always better to book directly from us to enjoy cheapest prices, more availabilities and our upgrade of refund policy.
We are now proposing our daily chocolate workshops from both our stores: the main one in Sablon and the second one in Place Royale. Both stores are very close to each other (650m), less than 10mns by walking. Depending on the number of participants, and to avoid a crowded activity, we frequently divide the group within these two places. The participants must register themselves 30mns before the start of the activity at our booking desk. They will receive a waistband and a welcome pack with hairnet, gloves and a brochure about making chocolate. Participants always receive a text message by Whatsapp or iMessage before the activity takes place with the confirmation of the place where they will be welcomed and a Google Maps link to find it easily.
At The Belgian Chocolate Makers we propose to our clients a great collection of handmade chocolates created in our store and in front of our clients. Therefore, our daily public workshops are also a great opportunity to meet our chocolate experts and to speak with them about our delicious chocolates. Pralines, truffles, orangettes, mendiants and many more surprises are waiting for you! You will be truly amazed!!!
Les Clefs d'Or Belgium
Brussels was recently recognized as one of the best European destinations by the Forbes Travel Tour. Cosmopolitan and museum-like, it offers a range of activities that brilliantly meets the expectations of demanding visitors including our chocolate workshops that became very popular for the last few years. Since 2023, we are a proud partner of the hospitality program Les Clefs d'Or Belgium, a clear sign of excellence given to all our clients and visitors.
Discover the Concierges Magazine, click here to enjoy Brussels hospitality.
Our trust and loyalty with our suppliers.
Having good suppliers is a blessing, and the last thing we want is to lose them. Our suppliers are an integral part for our business to succeed. Our supplier relationships are on the top list of our priorities because we understood that a strong and loyal bond between our company and our suppliers produce significant benefits that can elevate our business.
To produce our handcradted chocolates we love to use the tempering machines built by Selmi. Thanks to a partnership with Selmi and the leasing company Grenke, we can enjoy the benefits of 7 modern continuous tempering machines to produce our delicious handcrafted chocolates in our Brussels stores.
Thanks to all who help us to make our project a reality.
We have a few enemies within the little world of Belgian chocolate, especially the industrial chocolate makers who pretend to produce handcrafted chocolates (Unfortunately they are a lot and they are surrounding us in the heart of Brussels city!...). We always express loudly what we think so our relationships with them are a bit tense.
We are a true artisan chocolatier and you can notice it when you enter our stores and workshops. A true artisan is not owned by banks and pension funds. A true artisan does not multiply the number of its stores to infinity. A true artisan does not have more than 20 employees and is not just present at work when cameras and micros are near. A true artisan got a real how-know and his work is manual and authentic. Check who is a true artisan chocolate maker using the official website www.lesartisans.be. You will be surprised, we are the only true certified artisan chocolatier within Brussels city. True facts are not always appreciated! Most of the time, their revenge is limited to put fake poor reviews about our business on Google...
We can also count on a huge amount of supporters! There are some precious people who helped us a lot to achieve our goals and set up our business model so quickly. We wanted to give a big thank you to all who help getting The Belgian Chocolate Makers off the ground. Their support and efforts for our new business certainly contributed a lot to our success, and we want to thank them for that, especially all our loyal clients. Thank you for being a part of our family! We are very grateful for your continued patronage because we wouldn’t be here without our loyal customers. They could have chosen any other chocolate makers, but we appreciate that they have stuck with us.
We wish to express a big thank you as well to Finance Brussels for helping our development. We wish to show courtesy to the ING Business team, who has always been on our side since the beginning of our adventure, and Grenke, who financed a big part of our machinery costs. It was really challenging for both of them to be confident in our project especially during this complicated lockdown period but they have been very reactive and so helpful.
Thanks a lot to all who helped us to make our project a reality and who continue to fuel our passion every day! Especially François Deremiens, Selmi, Chocolate World, De Coster, Ranson and many more...
You're just amazing!