Chef-owner Christopher Curtin’s culinary path has been far from conventional: from starting out in kitchens in Madison, Wisconsin, to doing a stint with formal culinary training in Vermont and then working fourteen years in Europe before creating Éclat Chocolate.
Well before opening Éclat, Chris, a nationally ranked cross-country skier, saw the similarities between the restaurant world and his ski-racing background. He felt at home in the kitchen, where attention to detail, an intense drive toward perfection, and always working to improve technique were paramount. Chris’ journey has included time in numerous high-end restaurants.
After working at a number of kitchens in the states, Chris enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute on the recommendation of acclaimed pastry chef Andrew MacLauchlan, but stayed there only briefly before embarking on a self-designed culinary journey of training in Europe. It was while living at Les Compagnons du Devoir in Germany that Chris was awarded Master Pastry Chef and Chocolatier (Konditormeister). After becoming the first American to ever earn this distinctive title, Chris moved on to work at some of the premier chocolate factories in Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Japan.
“The last year in Europe I seem to have become a hired gun in the chocolate world,” Chris says. “I would get a call from a great shop in Japan. If I was available I would be back in Osaka within two weeks, working at one of my favorite shops. Every place I went I learned something special that would improve my catalog of knowledge. If I could see one thing that inspired an idea, then I knew my time there was well spent. Living at Les Compagnons du Devoir was like being a member of a secret society. It opened the door to a lot of opportunities. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
After fourteen years of learning and working at the world’s finest chocolate factories, including Confiserie Coppeneur, Poire and Herman Van Dender, Chris returned to the states in 2005 to open Éclat.
West Chester was a natural choice for the home of Éclat. Chris’ roots run deep here. One of his relatives, Andrew Gregg Curtin, was governor of the state during the Civil War. If you visit Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, you can even see his memorial statue. After years away, Chris’ family had returned to Chester County, so he decided to open Éclat in the heart of downtown West Chester—a walkable neighborhood backed by a flourishing food and drink scene, cultural activities, boutique shopping, and West Chester University.
The name Éclat came from one of Chris’ family members and has grown to evoke the spirit of our chocolates: timeless, classic, and with a nod to his European experience.
Now, as we enter our second decade, our team has grown, and we continue to craft the highest quality gourmet chocolates following the finest European traditions—truffles, caramels, bars, mendiants, and more. We are constantly developing new and exciting flavor profiles and seasonal confections and are always looking toward the future. Every chocolate we create has a story, a reason it was created and has remained a part of our offerings.
It’s been amazing to have been named the “best chocolates in America” (Bon Appétit) and the “world’s greatest caramels” (Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue Magazine). What’s to come in our near future? In our anniversary year, look for us to push the boundaries even more as we seek inspiration from the savory side of the kitchen and modernist design. Prepare to rethink what you’ve always thought chocolate should be.
Christopher Curtin is proud to share his art and experience with you through Éclat Chocolate, but his journey to become a Master Chocolatier began more than two decades ago as he honed his skills in the finest chocolate houses of Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Japan. Visit us in person at the Éclat Chocolate shop at 24 South High Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania, or shop our chocolates and confections online. All of our world-class, design-driven, chef-inspired gourmet chocolates are made on the premises and are presented for your selection and purchase.