With great sadness I open the kitchen notebook today to tell you that Jean-Jacques Bernachon passed away during early morning hours yesterday. It is no secret in the kitchens of Bernachon that he was not just the patron, but a father figure to each and every one of the staff there. He was well loved and maintained a presence in the kitchens and chocolate works until illness took him. He was 65.
Jean-Jacques is the a second generation of his family to be in the family business. At the age of 17, it was clear that he wanted to go into chocolate, like his father, Maurice. His father had started the business in the family name at their current site in Lyon's 6th arrondissement when Jean-Jacques was five years old. Maurice insisted that his teenage son Jean-Jacques learn the grueling work of producing chocolate from someone else, in order to develop a true appreciation for this often difficult trade before coming home to work in the family business. Maurice sent him to work for an old colleague in Bourgoin, and it was there that he cut his teeth, working 14 hour days. After a stage in Amsterdam, Jean-Jacques joined his father at Bernachon. After decades of working for his father, he took full leadership over the operation in 1998, when his father Maurice passed away.
Jean-Jacques Bernachon was married to Paul Bocuse's daughter Françoise in 1969, and is survived by her and their 3 children. He oversaw the artisanal torrefaction and chocolate and pastry making activities, and Françoise continues management of the tea room attached to the chocolate shop. Two of their children are involved with the family business. His son Phillipe plays a role in the artisan chocolate production, and daughter Stephanie runs the chocolate boutique.
Our deep and heartfelt condolences to the Bernachon family, including every member of their staff. Thank you, Jean-Jacques, for your kindness in allowing us in to catch a glimpse of the passion that is Bernachon. I maintain my fond memories and have implicit trust in your wife and children to carry on in the family name.
Other posts about Bernachon in Lucy's Kitchen Notebook:
Bernachon - Chocolatier Extraordinaire
Backstage at Bernachon
How Chocolate Came to Save Fran
Labels: Printemps 2010