"If Jean-Marie Bara was from Lapland he'd be Father Christmas. The ample-waisted Belgian has the same cherubic grin, wire-rimmed classes and beard as Father Christmas and even makes gifts."
Mary Jane Boland - The New Zealand Herald 1995
Hand-picked by John de Spa to produce Belgian style chocolates in New Zealand, Jean-Marie Bara has over 40 years experience as a chocolate maker in Belgium, including a period of service with the Belgian Royal Family.
He started as a patissier, adding the chocolate making skills to help him achieve the high degree of decoration and presentation required. His training took a total of seven years, but it was worth it - he ended up working for Dauby, a catering company appointed to the Belgian royal family. On several occasions he worked at the Royal Palace, producing petit fours, crystallised fruit and desserts.
Jean-Marie brings to de Spa a wonderful ability to combine flavours which complement and enhance each other. He has created a unique New Zealand style of Belgian chocolates which reflects the quality of food products available in this country. Visitors can call into de Spa Chocolaterie at Ferrymead and observe the chocolatier at work from our adjoining cafe.
With the growth of de Spa Jean-Marie Bara is now passing on his skills to an apprentice chocolatier, Kim Waters appointed in 1996, and other team members receive ongoing training under his watchful eye.