Jean-Paul Hévin, the Most Sought-After Chocolatier in Japan


WordsSolenn Cordroc'h

The son of farmers, Jean-Paul Hévin grew up close to nature. He dreamt of becoming an electrician, but chance led him to train as a pastry chef, and it was certainly for the best. Now, Jean-Paul Hévin is a world-renowned chocolatier who has become a real superstar in Japan. It’s been an inspiring and indeed unexpected journey for this man from Mayenne in France.

When starting out as a pastry chef, he met renowned chef Joël Robuchon, an encounter which changed his life. Guided by this master mentor, Hévin excelled in the kitchens at Hotel Nikko in Paris. Then, in 1981, he left to help Lucien Peltier, the great French pastry chef, open a shop in Japan. This first voyage outside of France fascinated Hévin, and he fell for Japan’s charm. His insatiable curiosity led him to learn the language and explore and become thoroughly taken in by Japanese culture.

Thanks to his French know-how, the pastry chef and chocolatier received the coupe de France de Pâtisserie in 1982, the theme for which was none other than Japan, and then the title of Meilleur ouvrier de France in 1986. His originality, artistic sensitivity and unbeatable flair, accompanied by his solid technical skill, conquered the French market first when he opened his first shop in 1987, in Paris.

A chocolate purist, Hévin creates his works with the same lightness of touch as would a craftsman in any other field. He aspires to offer new pleasures and new discoveries. And so it was that, fuelled by this passion and determination, he moved to Japan. He opened his first shops in Tokyo in 2002, and there are now fourteen of them up and down the country. This dazzling success is due to Hévin’s ability to adapt, for example by integrating yuzu and chestnut cream into his products, thus producing chocolate with greater rigour and strictness.

You can taste this chocolate perfection in a setting created by the chef himself, the Cave à chocolat. In this part of the shop, the humidity levels are kept constant and the temperature is controlled extremely closely. Jean-Paul Hévin’s success is just as remarkable as it was in the early days of his career. This chocolate love story, split between France and Japan, can, despite the distance, be enjoyed with just as much enthusiasm as the sweet gems Hévin creates.