Meet A Local | Justin Chao
Our latest #MeetALocal features this one of this months featured artisans, Justin Chao of Le Bon Garcon. After attending culinary school in Paris + falling in love with everything caramel, Justin devoted his studies to smooth, succulent caramel perfection.
Le Bon Garcon
Founder: Justin Chao
Location: Moorpark, CA
Company Launch: 2010
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
During culinary school, I would spend my weekends exploring Paris in order to take advantage of all the food that the city had to offer. One day, I stopped at a hotel restaurant to have some tea. The check came with a creamy, soft caramel. Once I tasted the caramel, I became obsessed with learning how to make caramels. I even started an internship with a chocolatier who was famous for his caramels. When I returned home, I wanted to share my experience with people in Los Angeles, so I started my company, Le Bon Garcon.
Tell us about your products.
Le Bon Garcon caramels are hand-crafted caramels cooked to smooth, creamy perfection in small, artisan batches. Each batch is made in a copper pot in order to create the smoothest possible texture and finished with salt and a touch of buttermilk in order to enhance the natural flavor of the caramel.
What Does “Artisan” Mean To You?
An artisan thinks of his/her product as a craft. The artisan pays attention to every detail in order to create an experience for his/her customers that will make them slow down and appreciate the small joys in life.
What is your favorite artisanal treat?
My latest artisanal indulgence has been my daily cup of small batch coffee each morning.
What Drew You To Food?
My favorite part of the day has always been eating a good meal with friends or family. My favorite part of my job is seeing customers react to my caramels like I did when I first tried French caramel.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
My food inspiration comes from my teachers at culinary school who taught me to only use the best ingredients and to constantly refine my technique.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
I am working on bringing back my macadamia nut caramel.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
I love the macadamia nut caramel.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
I had a rice-noodle stir-fry made from leftovers in my fridge.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other Artisans?
The best piece of advice I've gotten is to listen to your customers.
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
I really admire Sherry Yard. Sherry Yard doesn't rely on food trends or exotic ingredients She really thinks about combining flavors in subtle, clever ways so that her desserts taste incredible but it's hard to pinpoint why.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
My mom's tomato-beef chow mein.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
I love to go out for dim sum. I think it's because I love Chinese dumplings.
What’s Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
I always been pretty curious. I'm always taking some sort of class.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
The Eagles and Stevie Nicks
Follow Justin + Le Bon Garcon