WHO HE IS
Julien Rousseau-Dumarcet is standing in front of a fountain-like machine that's heating a silky tub of pure dark chocolate, stirring out lumps and waiting for it to hit the perfect Easter bunny-making temperature of 31 degrees. A native of southern France, the longtime chocolatier—who owns Rousseau Chocolatier with his wife Nathalie Morin—has been working seven days a week, 10-plus hours a day, to keep his Hollis Street boutique stocked with hand-painted chocolate eggs and artisanal bunnies and lambs for Easter. So far, he's made about 1,000 pieces for the holiday—which is the shop's second busiest time, after Christmas.
WHAT HE DOES
"People eat with their eyes," says Rousseau-Dumarcet, swiping globs of melted chocolate onto a cartoonish rabbit-shaped mould with a paintbrush, the first of dozens he'll make today. "My job is to teach people that there is something else, and something better. That's why we like when customers come in, to give them a little taste of our chocolate so they can see the quality of the product and the flavour we have." The care behind his artfully crafted sweets, and his love of incorporating colour into his chocolates, are part of what helps his work stand apart—far apart—from your standard Easter score. And so do his ingredients, many of which he's buying at markets or from local foragers. "Why would I buy lavender essential oil when I can use just lavender buds from here? It's 100 times better," says Rousseau-Dumarcet. "I use local products because they are better. I buy all of my spices from Costas [Halavrezos], The Spice Man at the Brewery Market, and lavender from Seafoam Lavender farm."
WHERE HE DOES IT
After some time in the fridge, the two halves of the shiny, dark chocolate bunny pop out of their moulds as effortlessly as an ice cube does out of its tray. Next, Rousseau-Dumarcet will fill it with the his signature sea beings—little sea-creature-shaped chocolates—before carefully melting it shut, and wrapping it up for sale. The air inside Rousseau Chocolatier is heavy with the seductive smell of chocolate on any given day, but it has been even moreso this month. Last year, Easter saw the shop sell out of not just every special-made egg and bunny, but out of everything. Its displays were empty save for a handful of white chocolate bars. To prep for this year's rush, Rousseau-Dumarcet figures he's been averaging about 120 pieces per day, on top of his regular chocolate-making. "I know it's not enough, and we'll sell out," he says, laughing. "But I'm not Superman."
1277 Hollis Street