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February 1, 2021

My top three favorite comedy movies of all time are about strong, single moms who run their own businesses. One runs a chocolate shop in the movie Chocolat (Juliette Binoche); one is a baker in It’s Complicated (Meryl Streep); and the third is a successful playwright in Something’s Gotta Give (Diane Keaton).

Today I get to tell you about Chocolat. Binoche plays a beautiful, young woman with a daughter who wanders from place to place in Europe sharing her love of chocolate making everywhere she goes. The movie starts with her moving to a small village in France, renting an old patisserie (bakery) and turning it into a chocolaterie (chocolate shop). The problem is, she does this right before Lent and the mayor of the town, who is very religious and a man of tradition, has a real problem with her tempting his citizens during the holy fasting time of Lent.

There are so many elements to the story, but my juices really get flowing during the scenes where she is cleaning the old shop, painting and preparing it for her grand opening. She makes the most decadent, beautiful, and delicious chocolate treats! When a new customer visits, she guesses which indulgence is his or her favorite. At one point, she helps another townswoman, who is being abused by her husband, escape from that horrible situation by giving her a place to live and teaching her the art of chocolate making.

I’ve watched this movie over and over again (yes, I know, I’m one of those annoying people who re-watches movies when they strike a chord. This movie is special to me though. When I began contemplating starting my bakery, all I could think about was this movie. How Vianne (Binoche’s character) just walked into town, set up her shop, and became a very special part of the community. I wanted that so much for my baklava and myself, and while there are complications to her immersion into the hearts of the townsfolk, she emerges as a very significant part of so many lives.

This movie came out in 2001, and I opened my bakery in 2008. When I knew I wanted to come up with a chocolate version of my baklava I pulled out my trusted DVD once again for inspiration. There is a scene (which I rewound and rewound to watch again and again) where she pairs nuts with chocolate, and it looks so gorgeous I knew I needed to up my game from my original design of just placing a chocolate chip on top to garnishing with an almond as well. It just really makes each piece extra lovely to have a kiss of chocolate accompanied with a whole shiny almond on top. It’s like a crown for a king or queen!

There are so many significant themes that this movie delves into: the value of grandparents, the importance of establishing roots in a community, women helping women, non-conformity, being willing to stick up for people less fortunate than you regardless of the cost. And, of course, there’s love and chocolate! Hey, I have an idea: while you curl up on the couch to enjoy your Chocolate Almond baklava why not do it while watching this fantastic movie! You won’t be disappointed. See you next month!

With lots of love,