Meet the chocolatier: Odile Chatelain

Odile Chatelain has been making chocolates her whole life after learning at a young age from her mother who was an incredible homecook. However, it took a few years for Odile to realize that chocolate was her passion in life. Odile left Paris in 1975 with the desire to experience life outside of France and Toronto was one of her top choices since her sister was living there already. Odile recalls first visiting Toronto when she was 18 and one thing that really spoke to her was how spacious and spread out the city was compared to the dense narrow streets she grew up with just outside of Paris.

Odile Chatelain, founder of Odile Chocolat.

25 years ago, Odile really began to hone her skills in chocolate and 12 years later, she found herself using the commercial kitchen of Célestin restaurant to start her business. However, when Celestin eventually closed she was forced to find another space to make her chocolates. On Valentine’s Day in 2009, Odile Chocolat opened its doors on Dundas Street West. The Trinity Bellwoods neighborhood is now known as quite the trendy neighborhood but nine years ago it was much seedier and a chocolatier was a surprising fit to the area. However, Odile has been able to remain on Dundas Street to this very day through catering orders and through offering a unique high quality product.

A gorgeous box of Odile’s truffles and caramels.

Odile’s chocolate creations are truly a labour of love with many truffles taking several days to make. All of Odile’s chocolates are completely made from scratch. Her process begins with infusing her ganache with her desired flavours to act as a filling for her truffles, which are then hand cut and hand dipped one by one. A beautiful silk-screened cocoa butter transfer has been cut down to the exact size of the truffle and gently applied on top with tweezers. Chocolates containing citrus peels are another story since the candying of the citrus takes 11 days to complete. Usually by Christmas time, most of Odile’s jewel toned jars of citrus peels have been emptied and used in her chocolates, which urges her to begin her cycle of candying fruit again the following year.

Odile’s shelf of preserved citrus peels including orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit and kumquat.

Odile loves traveling and draws a lot of inspiration from the places she visits. The Bollywood truffle is inspired by Odile’s visits to India and features a cardamom infused ganache filling and an exterior topped with edible silver leaf, which is commonly used as decoration on traditional Indian sweets. However, living in Toronto has certainly influenced Odile’s creativity as well, which is exemplified in her Canadiana collection. Locally sourced ingredients are used to make flavours such as Wild Canadian Rose as well as Maple, Black Walnut.

Odile’s truffles from left to right: Raspberry Vinegar, Bollywood and Chestnut Honey.

Odile is always playing around with new flavours to add to her collection and just developed a line of vegan truffles last year. Aside from truffles, Odile also makes a variety of hot chocolate mixes, chocolate lollipops, chocolate bark and luscious chocolate dipped caramels in different flavours. It is very evident how much Odile truly loves chocolate and her own words best convey her outlook on her craft, “chocolate is a passion, a lesson in patience and you have to work in it day in and day out to get better”.

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