La Patisserie customers have a chance to win free desserts for life if they find the Golden Ticket in one of 400 handmade chocolate bars | Photo provided

In one of 400 handmade chocolate bars for sale at La Patisserie in Hotel Bennett, acclaimed Pastry Chef Rémy Fünfrock has hidden a golden ticket. “Rémy and the Chocolate Factory,” a spinoff of Roald Dahl’s famous classic, invites customers to take part in a competition to win free desserts from La Patisserie — for a lifetime. 

This competition has been a team effort among the pastry shop staff, Fünfrock said. It also is an opportunity to market unique and experimental flavors of chocolate. 

Though Fünfrock is first and foremost a French pastry chef, chocolate-making is as much a labor of love as is the crafting of classic desserts. 

“I wanted to use the chocolate from Valrhona, a company back in France. And they’re very close to my hometown,” he said. The company also helps to fight inequality and is committed to fair treatment of the workers who produce the cacao beans they’re buying, he said. 

Dressed in a signature white chef’s uniform with his last name embroidered on the left side, he pointed to four of his chocolate bars displayed neatly on a mahogany table. 

Pastry Chef Rémy Fünfrock said the competition is also a fun way to try new chocolate flavors | photo by Andrew Cebulka

The first was 64% cacao, which Fünfrock noted was a bit acidic. He flipped over the bar and pointed to the bits of pink fused into the chocolate. 

“[The chocolate]  goes well with the berries and stuff when we do desserts, so I decided to put dried berries in the back — strawberries, blueberries and raspberries,” Fünfrock said. 

The second bar, he explained, was also dark chocolate. “It goes so well with candied orange,” he said. The natural decision, then, was to add pieces of candied orange peel. 

Of the third, he said, “This one is caramelized cocoa nibs. Cocoa nibs are the pure cocoa bean that is crushed. So we get this and then caramelize it. And then I put it in the back [of the bar].” 

Caramelizing brings out the flavor of cocoa nibs and nuts. “It’s small work. More dedication to the product,” he said. 

Of the last bar on the table, Fünfrock noted, “It’s a white chocolate made with brown sugar and caramelized milk powder. The flavor of it — it’s incredible.” 

All of the chocolate bars are similar aesthetically: They’ve been molded into a design with rows of triangles. “We used this mold so that [the chocolate] will be different than everybody else’s,” Fünfrock said. 

Fünfrock did the same with the wrapper. “It has been fully designed by myself and one of my coworkers. She’s good at the computer,” he said, chuckling. 

More than chocolate  

Hotel Bennett is quintessential King Street, bustling with movement and chatter from locals and tourists alike. The pastry shop sells fluffy croissants, sugar-specked muffins and colorful cakes dressed in gelee and ganache — among other desserts and breakfast items. The place also reminds Fünfrock of years past. 

Before Fünfrock was the chef at the hotel, he worked in his home country of France at restaurants and, later, pastry shops, which gave him much of his baking wisdom. 

These patisseries were located in small towns or small villages. He remembers, more than anything, the feeling of being there. 

 “You go in [the pastry shop] in the morning at, like, 5 a.m. Everything is quiet. You walk into the street and there’s a church. You open the shop at 7 in the morning — you open the door, and then you have fresh air and you have the sunrise … the feel of it.

“Here in Charleston, this neighborhood at this corner, it’s just like — I’m getting goosebumps — it’s just like what I experienced in France when I was working. ” Fünfrock said. 

Fünfrock emphasized how much he enjoys talking to the regulars. The shop isn’t solely for hotel guests; in fact, the coffee shop is always full of locals, Hotel Bennett Marketing Manager Halina Wilusz said. The contest adds to the relationship-building component that Fünfrock so deeply values. 

A lifetime of desserts means the winner will get free pastries through 2030, Wilusz added. But it precludes someone from collecting their prize in bulk — say, a bag of 100 desserts. The winning patron will ideally visit the shop every day to eat their pastry and chat with the employees, she said. 

Customers can buy up to six chocolate bars. Each bar costs $12 each, and the contest will wrap up by the end of September, Wilusz said. 

“We really do hope to establish a relationship with this person,” added Wilusz. It’s “about creating these amazing memories that hopefully the winner will take with them forever.” 

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