In 1922 Pastry chef Albéric Guironnet sets up a workshop in the Rhone Valley, the French region after which he would name his business: Valrhona. There, he developed a chocolate manufacturing business devoted to serving his fellow flavour creatives. In 2022 thanks to their commitment and involvement, cocoa partners, suppliers, apprentices, pastry chefs, bakers, chocolatiers, chefs, ice-cream makers, creators and connoisseurs all work with Valrhona to make the cocoa industry fair and sustainable to inspire creative, ethical gastronomy. 100 years separate these two dates.
Valrhona 100th Anniversary – 100 years of commitment and innovation
That century has generated ground-breaking innovations with unparalleled signature flavours. Chocolate “fèves” (as Valrhona call their small, rounded chocolate pieces) have reinvented what they expect from flavour – bitter Guanaja, for example – and broadened their colour palettes, as blond Dulcey did. They have also opened up a new way to sample and work with fruit thanks to Inspiration, and their chocolate-tasting fèves have attained legendary status.
Over 100 years, Valrhona’s determination to deepen their knowledge of cocoa ever further and support communities has been confirmed time and time again thanks to long-term partnerships with producers averaging terms of eight years.
For 100 years, they have been sharing their expertise, which has found its passionate culmination in L’École Valrhona on several continents. They have also been determined to promote craft professions by helping to launch their profession’s key initiatives such as the Pastry World Cup.
Over 100 years, the chocolate factory in Tain l’Hermitage has preserved techniques passed down through history, which form a craft that is still highly respected today. And this same hometown now hosts the Cité du Chocolat where, every year, 140,000 chocolate connoisseurs get the chance to learn more about this fabulous product and the people who work with it.
During their 100 years, Valrhona has supported an increasingly inclusive vision, and their recent B Corp certification gives us both recognition of their commitment and a path to follow as they would a roadmap.
100 years: Over the course of the century, their commitment to gastronomy that looks good, tastes good and does good has only got stronger and has constantly guided the decisions Valrhona makes.
But now is the moment for us all, together, to make sure the next 100 years are every bit as indulgent and positive for people and the planet. They have 100 years to act and bring to fruition a mission inspired 100 years ago by… a humble bean.
Valrhona has long questioned the impact of their work on people and the planet. In 2002, the company formalized its sustainable development strategy via the Live Long program. From that moment, Valrhona defined itself as a company whose mission statement, “Together, good becomes better”, conveys the strength of its commitments.
It works every day to maintain a fair and sustainable cocoa industry which respects people, natural resources and the planet. 100% of cocoa beans can be traced back to their original plot. That way, Valrhona stays in contact with its 17,215 partner producers. Through its work, the Valrhona Foundation goes some way to improving their living conditions. It helps to make it easier for their children to access education and guides them towards sustainable agricultural practices so that the supply chain is free from deforestation and biodiversity is preserved.
Within this approach, Valrhona has also enacted a daily commitment to making gastronomy more ethical. It wants to create a collective movement which brings together everyone working in gastronomy to challenge the status quo and, together, invent new ways of doing things. As they think about their dietary future, they have reimagined how they choose local ingredients, respect seasonality, recycle garbage, generate a circular economy, reduce wasted energy and food, respect biodiversity, showcase the value of community and more besides.
This is how they have invented, now and for future generations, a gastronomy that tastes great, looks great, and does great things for the world. So that everyone can help to drive change and take part, the ultimate best practice reference – The Ethical Gastronomy Handbook – is available to support the Drôme branch’s partners through the transition. It was with this same attitude to sharing a new vision for gastronomy that Valrhona’s Experimental Pastry Chef, Frédéric Bau, provided us with recipes for pastries that contain fewer calories, are more ethical and are just as delicious as ever in his book Reasonable Indulgence.
Thanks to this continuous hard work, in January 2020 Valrhona was proud to win certification from a very demanding organization, B Corporation®. B Corporation rewards the world’s most committed companies that put equal emphasis on economic, societal and environmental performance. This certification is tangible proof that they take their chocolate’s impact seriously.
Valrhona’s 100th anniversary is also a great reason to celebrate! They will mark this unique anniversary all through 2022. The celebrations will all feature delicious food, inspiration and special moments with their community.
After Tain l’Hermitage, New York and Tokyo, a L’École Valrhona school was inaugurated in the heart of Paris, in the Marais district, on May 2, 2022! Previously located in Versailles, the school is now ideally located to welcome professionals from all over France and abroad. This new 340m2 showcase includes 78m² of kitchen space over two floors and focuses on sweet cuisine.
As well as being a showcase for its chocolate- and pastry-making know-how, L’École Valrhona is a powerful training facility promoting creativity conducive to meeting new people, learning and passing on new gastronomy techniques and trends. It is intended for all professionals wishing to deepen their knowledge, perfect their work and express their uniqueness.
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Valrhona has created Komuntu 80%. The origin story goes to the heart of the brand’s sustainability efforts. Komuntu couverture came to be when a group of ethically-minded people got together to create the ultimate in responsibly made chocolates.
It tells the story of all the people involved throughout the supply chain around the world. The blend of cocoas has a singular aromatic character, with a powerful bitter woody flavour underpinned with notes of toasted nibs.
Valrhona will redistribute all the profits of this Komuntu couverture collected during the anniversary to cocoa farmers.
KOMUNTU is the symbol of the joy of Valrhona’s diversity, in keeping with other chocolate varieties from the brand, it features a brightly coloured pattern typical of the countries of origin of its cocoas with artwork by Franco-Malagasy artist Deborah Desmada.
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Valrhona has launched a major culinary showcase in Asia-Pacific in Sydney, Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore inviting its customers, chefs and makers to join the anniversary celebrations, honouring its past and reflecting on the future of chocolate.
This extraordinary showcase will bring together chefs and talents to explore craftsmanship and chocolate with professionals from all over the world.
The experiential space takes guests on a journey from farm to table. Guests are immersed in the Valrhona story from the moment they step in, time travelling through a historic corridor that draws them toward the main space, anticipating the celebration ahead.
Once in the experiential space introduces, guests discover the true meaning of Valrhona’s mission where “Together, good becomes better”. The zone includes sourcing and origin stories as well as a tasting zone where chocolate creations can be enjoyed. Valrhona’s journey continues with the Valrhona Bar and a showcase of the L’Ecole Valrhona.
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