FOUNDERS AND OWNER
Jean-Paul (“JP”) Hepp, Founder and Co-Owner of Chocodiem, takes chocolate very seriously. After all, he’s Belgian! “Belgian chocolate is considered to be the gourmet standard by which all other chocolate confections are measured… What makes Belgian chocolate unique is the quality of the ingredients and an almost fanatical adherence to Old Word manufacturing techniques… most Belgian chocolate is still made by hand in small shops…” (wiseGeek).
Mention any of the mass-produced chocolates in JP’s presence and you might catch a slight cringe. That’s because for the past 23 years in the U.S., JP has had to consume too many inferior quality chocolates. When the opportunity presented itself, JP chose to change that by starting Chocodiem in 2012. He now makes chocolates by hand in small batches in a kitchen in Clinton, NJ, using no preservatives and using only premium chocolate found while he traveled to different parts of the world in search of the best cacao beans. While this artisan approach results in a higher cost than mass-produced chocolates, JP wants to appeal to discerning customers who enjoy first-rate chocolates following Belgian standards.
Prior to their pursuit in making some of the best chocolate in the U.S., JP and his daughter and Co-Owner, Eveline, both obtained degrees in Belgium at the University Antwerp in Biology (Ecology). JP applied his PhD degree in the pharmaceutical industry for over 23 years before venturing into the kitchen to make chocolates. The classes, training and dedication by both JP and Eveline have earned them the title of master chocolatiers. They take great pride in merging their experiences in both art and science to discover unique flavor combinations guaranteed to delight their customers.
Why don’t you be the judge! Stop by and ask for a sample. Or sign up for a chocolate tasting class and learn what makes Chocodiem chocolates exceptional. While visiting, be sure to give your feedback as JP is always seeking customer input to create distinctive flavor combinations.
Chocodiem also makes custom chocolates for special events and can tailor the chocolates and display to your theme if desired. In addition, Chocodiem sells wholesale and will customize a line of chocolates for retailers who wish to carry this truly gourmet product.
Kathleen Hernandez’s passion is not just as artist and designer, but also as Pastry Chef and Chocolatier at Chocodiem in Clinton, NJ. A former childrens’ wear designer, Chef Kathleen always loved to bake for friends, family and clientele with a creative flair.
She attended the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC and is an advocate of the Share Our Strength organization to end child hunger in America. Kathleen has honed her skills and techniques working with top pastry chefs at The World Pastry Forum in Arizona’s National Pastry Championship, James Beard Foundation, Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, Bouchon Bakery, and many others.
With her background in pastry, it was only natural that chocolates become an extension of her talents and artistry shown in richly flavored, hand-painted truffles, pralines, and pastries. Kathleen lends her deep knowledge and talents to contribute to the growth of Chocodiem with a continuous array of new creations.