“Chocolats Andrée is an institution that has been both a witness and an active player in Montreal’s evolution, in a similar way to Schwartz’s, Birks or Moishes,” recalls owner Stéphanie Saint-Denis.
Imagine: during the Second World War, a mother undertakes to open a homemade chocolate boutique. Back then, Madeleine Daigneault and her sister Juliette Farand, two bona fide pioneers, were already setting the bar high by committing to offer a high-quality service and products.
At the time, they catered to nearby clientele, among them residents of Outremont and its surroundings. “I wanted to offer very high quality chocolates,” remarks Madeleine Daigneault. “I was lucky to be well surrounded by Outremont and the Mile-End, most notably by those who make up its Jewish community. They all helped me build my name. I was lucky to be so easily accepted into the neighbourhood. During the war, many manufacturers would offer chocolate as gifts. But with the lack of foodstuff, clients had to bring me sugar so I could continue making my chocolates.”
Chocolats Andrée’s renown then rapidly spread, contributing to its reputation as an undisputed Montreal institution, which it has now well earned. A wise businesswoman with shrewd instincts where quality is concerned, Daigneault was one of the first in Montreal to use chocolate with a high cocoa content and to proceed to its hand dipped coating.
How many families, smiles and happy moments have been shared since the opening of this intimate Park Avenue space – an ideal meeting point between Outremont, and the neighbourhoods of Plateau-Mont-Royal and Mile-End? Chocolat Andrée is a family story, but it’s also, quite significantly, a story about women.
Madeleine successfully handed down her boldness and passion to her daughter Nicole, who was also an owner from 1986 to 1992, and then to her granddaughter Stéphanie Saint-Denis, the young owner who spent a large chunk of her childhood in the store’s atelier, doing her homework on a marble table as she observed and let herself be taken over by the chocolate, fruit and hazelnut aromas. Chocolats Andrée is therefore the story of a small, family-run business’ success – and one that bears a female stamp.
A story of women who, from the outset, banked on quality and rigour, always driven by a strong concern for consistency and sharing. Stéphanie Saint-Denis began her career as a chartered accountant, like her father and grandfather. “Family roots are really precious to me: I’m motivated by a passion for chocolate, which was handed down to me by my mother and grandmother, while understanding the business mindset needed to adapt oneself to a continually evolving environment.”
Developed according to the purest French tradition, Chocolats Andrée’s gourmet bites remain a reference for high-end chocolates. They’re still made in the atelier found at the Park Avenue back store, among the marble tables, those chilled in water and the original gas stoves. Each step in this local production is carried out without compromising on the use of fresh, first-rate ingredients.
Each day, Stéphanie and her team work hard to enhance the value of Chocolat Andrée’s history, perpetuating its values and the roots of a unique trajectory that’s steeped in chocolate. A story of love, know-how and authenticity.