Chocolaterie Carré’s adventure started out with Dirk Naert, a talented chocolate worker who realised he had found his calling whilst training as a chocolatier. At work placements, he was struck by the fact that few chocolatiers were prepared to try their hand at making liqueur-filled pralines. The perfect opportunity then to make his mark and take the plunge…
Headed for the top step by step
Starting out with zero capital and zero customers did not make for the smoothest of launches, which meant he had no option but to build his own business from the ground up. There was no such thing as a quick and easy road to success. Nonetheless, Dirk and his wife Mieke were undaunted: Chocolaterie Carré would specialise in liqueur pralines, a product that may have had a fuddy-duddy image, yet also came with huge potential.
Slowly but surely Chocolaterie Carré started growing, both in terms of clientele and product range. Today, 29 years down the line, the business has remained unwavering in its dedication to its core product: liqueur pralines containing a liquid filling, albeit with a wide range of flavours.
As it happens, the very name "Carré" (meaning ‘square’) comes with a nice story attached. At the 1958 World’s Fair held in Brussels (famously referred to as the ‘Expo ’58’ in Belgium), renowned Belgian chocolate brand Cote d’Or had set up shop at… the chocolate pavilion. Over time, said pavilion went on to serve an entirely different purpose when it was turned into famous Belgian discotheque “Carré” in Willebroek. To Dirk Naert, a regular at the disco dance club in his younger days, the name made for a nice link with the past. Which is how Chocolaterie Carré saw the light of day.
The best of two worlds
The range of flavours on offer is particularly varied. But it was to be the introduction of beer-filled pralines that really made an impression. All down to the fact that these pralines combine the best of two worlds: Belgian chocolate and Belgian beer. Partnerships with local breweries have since resulted in a range of beer pralines that is highly rated by beer aficionados and chocolate fans alike. The company’s beer pralines were no fleeting fad and have proved to be a lasting success. And it allowed Chocolaterie Carré to set itself up as a popular chocolate brand with wider audiences.
For all that, the business has remained loyal to its time-honoured production methods, even if this involves the odd starch cloud. It is a craft that requires precision and handicraft. Even though some processes have been automated since the early days, making chocolate is and remains a delicate process that can never be, nor should ever be fully automated. Never say never though…
A team passionate about chocolate
Being a “family business” is an epithet that has turned out to a priceless asset to Chocolaterie Carré. Not only has the next generation stepped up to come on board, Dirk and Mieke also consider the passionate members of the team who have been working at the company for donkey’s years as family. Their undimmed passion for chocolate and its liqueur pralines in particular is the driving force.
Chocolaterie Carré’s future looks promising. Needless to say the company is keen to continue to grow and innovate, in the fullest respect of the craft and tradition. After all, these are the very qualities that have taken Chocolaterie Carré to where it is today. The aim is clear: to continue to push the envelope step by step and to be a credit to Belgian chocolate, giving it the honour it deserves, with or without beer!