This is the latest entry in a series called Who Owns That? We ask readers on our LinkedIn group to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories.
Introducing Christophe Bonzon, the owner of Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie located in Burnaby, B.C.
Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, and where you operate?
Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie is a high-end Swiss pastry shop featuring an extensive range of viennoiserie, patisserie, macarons, hand-made chocolates and showpieces to celebrate different holidays. Our product range is hand made on-site in its entirety.
I trained in Switzerland and France and also worked as a pastry chef for high-end patisseries and restaurants in Switzerland, Australia and Canada, including the award-winning CinCin Restaurant + Bar on Robson Street. My wife Jess and I launched the chocolaterie patisserie in March of 2013 in the rapidly developing area of Burnaby Heights.
I'm the first in Canada to work with Carma, an award-winning brand of Swiss chocolate which was elected best milk chocolate in the world in 2006. There's nothing quite like it anywhere in the city. It took me almost a year to arrange to import it directly from Switzerland. Now that we've received it, I've transferred over my entire chocolate collection to feature this new and unique Swiss chocolate, from my hand-crafted chocolate bars, to chocolate showpieces and sculptures of which reflect seasonal changes. In addition to chocolate, our French-inspired pastries change seasonally and employ local and in-season ingredients.
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to branch out on your own with this idea?
The story of Chez Christophe is a story of love and passion: it's about an Artisan's love for sharing my creations and about introducing Canada to Swiss chocolate.
I discovered chocolate at the age of 10 while helping my mother make chocolate truffles as a gift for Christmas. Since then the passion for sweet food never left me.
Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?
Our main clients come from North Burnaby, Port Moody and Coquitlam, but we have slowly become a destination for Vancouverites and beyond.
Most people find us through social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instragram), traditional media (interviews on Global Television, CTV, City TV, Vancouver Sun, Georgia Straight, Burnaby Newsleader, Burnaby Now) and word of mouth.
What are the roles of you and your co-founder in the business? Do you have any employees?
When we opened our boutique a year ago, my wife and I were the sole employees and we now have a team of five chefs and three front-of-house staff. I'm responsible for supervising every aspect of principle production and solely responsible for development of product ranges whereas my wife manages the front of house and many administrative duties.
You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?
The key element of our success is the consistency of our product, utilizing the finest ingredients, local and organic product whenever possible and providing excellent customer service. We strive to always be creative with our design concepts and development of our product range and continuously evolve our range to reflect a contemporary vision at all times.