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Local Food Matters

By Mary Rosewood


Now is the ideal time to buy some special chocolates. Yes, Mother’s Day is coming soon, but even if you don’t celebrate that day, how about special chocolates for yourself?

Wlady and Shannon Grochowski

The La Chatelaine Chocolat Co. store in Bozeman is the perfect place to find high-quality chocolates and other French treats. When you’re there, ask about their charming afternoon tea. If that event is not currently available, you can still order a cup of tea or chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and enjoy a peaceful moment wrapped in the scent of chocolate.


Wlady Grochowski and his wife, Shannon, owners of La Chatelaine, each have a long love affair with French cooking.


Wlady described his grandmother’s house in France as a place “where chocolate was always flowing. We had access to chocolate any time, and usually before dinner we could have a piece of chocolate. She baked chocolate cakes, and all summer we stayed with her and made jams and cooked other things.”


When Wlady needed to make ends meet after he moved to Bozeman, he successfully sold desserts by word of mouth.

Jewel-like chocolates will delight

Shannon is self-taught. When she was about 10, she told her mother she wanted to bake a cake, so her mother bought a cake mix. But Shannon was determined to make it from scratch. Later, while she attended university in Bozeman, she sold tarts at the farmers market to help pay for school. Now she produces lovely French pastries at La Chatelaine.


In 2005, Wlady and Shannon met, and it was inevitable that they decided to make chocolates for a living and thus pursued specialized training in France and San Francisco.


As they worked out of rented kitchens in Bozeman, business slowly picked up pace, beginning with a newspaper ad and their first wholesale order at Joe’s Parkway Market. Soon they needed their own space, then outgrew that, and in 2013, they settled into their current shop on Rouse Avenue.


They wanted a French name for their business, “something elegant,” Wlady said, “so we came up with Chatelaine, which means the lady of the castle. We thought it would be a good representation of our French-inspired chocolates.”


This vision of La Chatelaine is evident when you see the chocolates lined up. “They are of many shapes, sizes, and colors because we wanted to create an elegant box with chocolates that look like jewels.”


Wlady loves his job. “Working with chocolate is extremely rewarding. It’s very temperamental, you cannot rush the process. You need to put it at the right temperature to work with it. If it’s too hot, it doesn’t work, if it’s too cold, it doesn’t work, because there’s a chemical reaction that happens during tempering. It keeps you on your toes. There’s always something happening with chocolate.”


For Wlady, working in a successful chocolate business means he can see his family in France around retreats he and Shannon run. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge of chocolate at a workshop during each retreat. “We teach how to do a ganache and how to do chocolates at home, by hand. That’s how we started, that’s how we learned. We made everything by hand.”


Each French countryside retreat in Burgundy is limited to six people so that a personal experience is assured.


“We don’t tell too much to our clients because we want them to be surprised,” Wlady explained. But he did say each person is picked up at the train “because we don’t want them to worry about anything during the five days they are with us.”


During those five days, you’ll stay in an 11th-century abbey, visit a farmers market, taste wine, and see places only the local French residents know about.


In addition, Wlady and Shannon will teach you how to make chocolates and French pastries so you’ll be able to recreate a bit of France in your own home kitchen.


The La Chatelaine shop is delightful, but you can also order online at chatelainechocolate.com. My experience has been fast delivery.


For information about the French retreat, go to frenchcountrysidecompanion.com.


If you have any questions, email wlady@chatelainechocolate.com.


La Chatelaine

110 S. Rouse Ave.

Bozeman 59715

406-522-5440

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