Heritage Swiss chocolatier to celebrities and successful people is now a global brand
By : | July 16, 2018

One hundred and forty-three-years-ago, Monsieur Pertuiset inaugurated his chocolaterie at Rue du Rhône in Geneva. Named Du Rhône, in obvious reference to the location, the luxury Swiss chocolatier soon became the chocolatier of choice for celebrities like Winston Churchill and J.F. Kennedy.



Much like Swiss watches, there is a lot of heritage backing du Rhône, the chocolatier of choice for celebrities and successful people, from Hollywood stars to the Shah of Iran.

The brand is now in several countries, including this year in India, where it opened a posh street-front store in the tony neighborhood of Pedder Road.


The story behind the brand

Across Switzerland, the tradition of making exquisite chocolates have been preserved by family-run maisons, and Du Rhône is the oldest chocolatier in Geneva. When a Swiss wants a chocolate, he goes to the local chocolaterie or patisserie, and not to the department store.

In 1875, Pertuiset opened his chocolate store in emblematic Rue du Rhône in Geneva, the destination then for everything fine and fashionable. His reputation as a chocolatier grew rapidly. It is said that there would be a long queue outside the store to buy his delicious chocolates and pralinés, leading to a traffic jam. Among them was a greedy horse, which blocked the street until he had been fed his favourite Du Rhône praliné.

It is said that 20 years after the opening of the chocolaterie, some of the original recipes were mysteriously stolen. Since then, most of their recipes are placed under lock and key.  The chocolaterie ultimately moved to Rue de la Confédération, in 1976, where it still stands.

Now there are Du Rhône tearooms across Geneva, and they are considered popular haunts by both the locals and travelers alike. The master chocolatier serves a selection of top-notch chocolate delicacies, featuring both dark and milk chocolates and all kinds of textures including pralines, mousse and ganache.

The team is helmed by Master Chocolatier Jean-Pascal Sérignat, who still makes Du Rhône chocoaltes and desserts using traditional recipes and know-how of the Swiss chocolate masters, to blend passion, skill and creativity in a potent mi. The 143-year-old chocolate brand is as natural as it gets: no preservatives, and absolutely no artificial colours. “They are classic handmade chocolates,” says Federico Marangoni, the young CEO of the brand who took over in 2014. “We do not, for instance, use chillies or any such ingredients in the chocolates. Instead, we stick to flavours like raisins, nuts, coffee, hazelnuts, raspberry, and orange. Our biggest selling chocolate is this beautiful Mocha Glacé that melts in the mouth.” More than 15 trained chocolatiers use well-established artisanal processes to create chocolates based on recipes that are almost 100 years old.

At the chocolaterie and boutique, the team also crafts exquisite chocolate sculptures such as chocolate shoe and handbag. The adjacent tearoom serves hot chocolate and chocolate-infused coffee.

In 2015, Du Rhône Chocolatier decided to expand beyond its home base and now has dealers in London, New-York, Berlin, Hamburg, and Dubai, besides exclusive stores in Riyadh, Taipei and Shanghai, and Mumbai.

Marangoni believes that it is years of tradition and heritage, the knowledge of what actually makes a chocolate last long, and the right processes that makes them a heritage brand.  “The processes are important in chocolate making. For instance, a chocolate should be stored in a moist, dark place, and should not be exposed to too much temperature fluctuations. While eating one, let it melt in your mouth instead of biting into it.  Every single piece of Du Rhône chocolate at is handcrafted. We would never industrially produce our chocolates because it is antithetical to the heritage of luxury.”

In September 2016, IBM selected Du Rhone Chocolatier to test its famous Chef Watson programme offering recipes designed by artificial intelligence. And during the annual Sibos exhibition, the biggest financial fair in the world, IBM selected Du Rhone Chocolatier to create chocolates for their numerous visitors. Jean-Pascal Serignat, Master Chocolatier devised three chocolates on the basis of flavours imposed by the programme: the Moricoco a blend of lime pulp, ginger, rum and grated and grilled coconut; the Original combining fennel, fresh coriander and whole-grain mustard and the Barbade, a creation that subtly combines strawberry pulp, fresh basil, Modena balsamic vinegar and Sichuan pepper.

In fact, Du Rhône is as bespoke as it gets; it crafts chocolates to match a perfume when needed, or chocolates that can be served during wine tastings.

The newest store

Du Rhône has just expanded to India and Federico Marangoni was here to launch it. “India is said to be a tough market to crack, but we have great partners who were keen to open a boutique in Mumbai, where they are based,” says Marangoni “We are taking it slow, and have planned four stores over the next few years. India has a tradition of consuming large amounts of chocolate. But our chocolates aren’t mass products, so we are not planning any aggressive expansion.”

In India, the chocolaterie has decided to opt for a street-front store instead of being in a luxury mall. “We do not expect too many walk-in clients. Instead, we will reach out to clients from the world of corporate and luxury, who will be introduced to Swiss chocolate-making traditions, and our various flavours,” says Marangoni. “We are experimenting with some exclusive flavors for India, for instance, peanut butter, but nothing is finalised as yet. The boutique is meant to serve as a showcase for the brand, which is why Peddar Road makes sense.”

Deepali Nandwani, former Editor in chief, Mediascope - NewBase Content, has spent 25 years in the world of journalism, and keenly tracks the global luxury industry.