Christophe Bonzon’s passion for pastries and chocolate has been a globe-spanning journey. From apprenticeships in his native Switzerland and in France to executive pastry chef positions in Western Australia and—most recently—at Vancouver’s CinCin, Bonzon has now settled down as the owner of the chocolaterie and pâtisserie Chez Christophe. “We live in North Burnaby,” Bonzon says of himself and his wife. “And we thought it would be a great addition to the neighbourhood.” It’s evident from the fully occupied row of seats at the cozy shop’s bar that Bonzon’s presence is highly appreciated by the community. “People are coming from Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, everywhere around so they don’t have to drive downtown,” Bonzon says. “Even people from Vancouver are coming up. We are slowly becoming a destination.”
The popularity of Chez Christophe’s sweets has raised the prospect of a second store, but Bonzon is aware of the dangers of expanding too quickly. “We are really careful with the consistency of our product,” Bonzon says. “We’d like to build our team here and grow strong enough so we can think about expanding to a second location, but we want to go one step at a time.” The small team of 10, in addition to Bonzon and his wife, ensures the high quality of goods, while still allowing room for development. “You have to adapt to what your customer wants,” Bonzon says. “The trends are changing. We are constantly evolving.” The glass display case exemplifies the wide range, lined with pastries and handcrafted chocolates, featuring unique flavours such as lemon and thyme, coconut and passion fruit, and raspberry kalamansi.
Allowing the menu to grow is another secret to Chez Christophe’s success. While maintaining a permanent collection of favourites, Bonzon also rotates through different flavours each season. One reason for this is Bonzon’s eagerness to work with local ingredients. His autumn/winter chocolate pear filo cake meets this fortune, featuring caramelized local pears with Swiss milk chocolate cream inside of a caramelized filo pastry. Along with local fruit, Bonzon is intent on sourcing other ingredients from nearby farms. From buttery croissants to fluffy macarons, each product bursts with flavour without an overwhelming density. “I think working with natural, simple, and fresh ingredients makes a big difference,” says Bonzon. “Of course it’s sweet, it’s sugar, but in small quantities.”
Bonzon showed off the West Coast’s fresh ingredients at this year’s World Chocolate Masters Canadian Final, winning Best Moulded Praline with his bonbon The BC (made with British Columbian birch syrup ganache and cranberry jelly), as well as three more awards. His delicacies have taken him far and wide, but Bonzon remains a familiar fixture in the Burnaby Heights community. Pull up a seat and enjoy a petit goût from your friendly neighbourhood chocolatier.