Chloé Migneault-Lecavalier: The colours of chocolate
Chloé Migneault-Lecavalier is one of the best chocolatiers in town. From a small locale in Pointe-Saint-Charles, she and fellow chocolatier Loïse Desjardins-Petrone create beautifully decorated fine chocolates. Meet one half of Lecavalier Petrone.
When Chloé was six years old, her family moved to California. It was the beginning of a series of moves as the Migneault-Lecavalier family followed their father wherever his work took him. They passed through London and Ottawa and then returned briefly to Montreal before leaving for France. During this last stay, which lasted three years, Chloé, then 14 years old, took a professional orientation test. The result was clear. She would be a chocolatier. At the time, she and her family thought it was really funny. “Seeing that you are going to be a chocolatier one day! Eventually, that’s what I’m doing today.” (Laughs).
In 2002, Chloe and her family returned to Quebec — this time for good — just in time for CEGEP. “As a student, I worked in a small fast food restaurant in the village where I lived in the Montérégie. I made poutines, club sandwiches, and two-eggs- and-bacon, but I loved the rush of serving, the adrenaline and the teamwork.” This discovery of the restaurant world led her to enroll in management at the Institut du tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ). Chloé quickly realized that it was the practical side of the restaurant industry that interested her. “The nutrition and management courses made me drop out. I went to work as a dishwasher at the Centre des Congrès and as a cook’s assistant in a seniors’ residence.”
Chloé then decided to return to the ITHQ to discover the art of Italian cooking. Upon graduation, she found work in the kitchens of Montreal’s Italian restaurants Graziella and Buonanotte. “I often picked up at the garde-manger. Sometimes I had to make desserts, and I really wasn’t good at it. Unsatisfied with her pastry creations, she showed resilience and went back to school for a third time at the ITHQ. “I decided to enroll in pastry to better understand and succeed in my desserts. Finally, I fell in love with the profession and I never went back to the kitchen.
Still in training, she found a job at a small South Shore chocolate shop called À la Truffe. “In pastry school, you don’t really see chocolate. But since my first job was in a chocolate shop, I guess I got hooked! She worked at À la Truffe for almost five years. During those years, she also spent some time in the workshops of Fous Desserts, Les Glaceurs, and Le Pain dans les Voiles. At À la Truffe, she had several important encounters that would determine the future of her work. First, Chloé met the future pastry chef of Bouillon Bilk and co-owner of Hélicoptère restaurant, Mélodie Pérez-Mousseau. Even today, Chloé remembers the influence of her colleagues who became mentors, such as Mélodie and Franck Dury-Pavet: “People who pushed me to work harder. It was also at la Truffe that she met her friend and future business partner, Loïse Desjardins-Petrone.
“When we met, chocolate making was a student job for us. Loïse was studying design at the time. We just really enjoyed working together. Over time, we grew in the business and got to know and appreciate each other. At one point, a photographer approached us about making a sweet table. It was something we had never done at the chocolaterie. Loïse and I appreciated the project so much that we said to each other: ”We’ll do something together one day.’ “
In early 2015, the Lecavalier Petrone chocolaterie was born on the South Shore, at Chloé’s home. With a small chocolate tempering machine in a room, the two girls launched into the production of chocolate delights. At the time, Chloé had two jobs, in addition to her chocolaterie. She was working as a pastry chef at the Trois Tilleuls Hotel while continuing to work at Pain dans les Voiles. “It was pretty intense. When it was the Christmas rush at the bakery, it was the rush at the hotel and for the chocolate shop too. We were working crazy hours…”
Very quickly, with orders coming in, the small size of the home facilities became restrictive. It became necessary to find a space “a little more MAPAQ”. Lecavalier Petrone moved into a small studio that they shared with a café. Due to the growing success of the chocolate shop, the 100 square feet of the new space also quickly proved to be too small. In early 2017, Chloe and Loïse met at Café Bloom in Pointe-Saint-Charles — the address where Tastet met the chocolatière. On their way there, the two young entrepreneurs passed by a space for sale, just across the street. It was love at first sight. “We really didn’t think we’d buy, but it was so perfect that we figured we couldn’t pass it up.”
“We made the decision to go for it!”. That decision marked the realization of their dream of living a project together, but it also came with a host of new challenges. “It’s been hard, because you have to make decisions all the time. At the beginning, we said yes to everything, because we needed money. Over the years, we’ve refined our offer to define what we like to do. And what I like to do.”
Speaking of which, what Chloé appreciates the most about being a pastry chef is the opportunity to explore both her love of food and her creative side. In fact, Lecavalier Petrone’s chocolates are true works of art. The artistic side of the family seems to be omnipresent: one of Chloé’s sisters is an actress and singer, the other works in the design world, and their mother draws a lot. For her part, Chloé’s favourite thing to do is paint in chocolate moulds. “People often tell us that our chocolates are too beautiful to eat; but no, please eat them! I spend so much time making them that they have to be eaten!” Contrary to what one might think, Chloé only paints her chocolate creations. “Maybe I’ll try painting on canvas,” she concluded with a smile.
Always with the sweet table in mind that brought them together, Chloé and Loïse developed Lecavalier Petrone on the theme of fun: “We just wanted to have fun and know that customers were really happy with our products.” In fact, their shop on Centre Street allows Chloé Migneault-Lecavalier to create a close relationship with customers and the neighbourhood.
Lecavalier Petrone is one of the best chocolate shops in town. Chloé is passionate about creating colourful chocolates that are as beautiful as they are delicious; try them and you’ll understand.
Written by Samuel Gauvreau Des Aulniers
Photography by Alison Slattery