Maple Culinary Ambassador
Chocolatier owner, Chocolaterie Samson
Her eyes sparkle with passion for her profession and her products. From humble beginnings in the basement of her house to being the first female member of the Chocolate Ambassador’s Club for Cacao Barry in North America, there’s quite a story to tell about Nancy Samson.
A graduate of the pastry and chocolate program at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) in 1989, Nancy Samson decided to perfect her skills at various establishments, such as Normand Laprise’s restaurant Citrus and several hotels including the Delta in Montréal and the Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta.
While still concluding her university studies, she was already teaching baking and pastry-making, yet finding the time to turn out her own chocolates … from her own home! Among her clients was the Première Moisson bakery chain. After a time during which she continued to upgrade her skills, she earned the title of Woman Chef of the Year in 2009, and became the first female ambassador for the chocolate company Cacao Barry in North America. She opened her first store in Trois Rivières in 2015, choosing to locate in a former bank dating back to the 1920s. This boutique is now considered one of the best chocolate shops in Québec, possibly in Canada. Nancy’s motto is to always aim higher, constantly improving her abilities to give people a unique taste experience.
This life-long learning approach has taken her to Philippe Urracca, France’s biggest pastry maker, in Gimont. Since 2012, she’s working under Patrick Roger, the world-renowned French chocolatier.
When not in her shop, Nancy may be found involved in social causes. She’s raised money through her unique chocolate creations for the impoverished at Christmas and the fight against breast cancer at Valentine’s.
”My first memory of maple is the taste… I was little and we’d drink maple sap right from the boilers. Our mittens were full of ice and we had sap all over us … my mom had to dry us off! What I appreciate about maple now is its versatility. You can use it with anything, even with meat like pork. And what can you say about maple syrup for a healthy breakfast? Nothing complicated: put maple syrup in plain yogourt in the morning. That’s what I do, and mix in toasted almonds, chia, and hemp seed.
Anyway, yes, I love maple! All the more because it represents Québec’s identity to me. It’s the most beautiful legacy to our forests, and I’m proud of it.”
Maple… a Slice of Life!
“I was born and bred in the Mauricie region. My parents always had a woodlot, and a cabin on it. When we were kids, we dreamt of giving my dad the true maple farm experience. What a joy it is to go out there as a family! Even though it’s just a little family sugar shack with 200 taps, I can see and appreciate all the work it takes to turn that sugary sap into syrup or taffy. Even more, the process takes a mastery of the thermometer and very significant food safety conditions. More than ever, I understand how much it costs to make maple products, with all the work it takes. I’m full of respect and gratitude for maple producers … ‘sugarers’ as my dad would say!”
“For sure, one of the most popular of the many products at my shop is the maple leaf mini-pastry (mignardise feuille d’érable) made with maple butter. I never hesitate to suggest them when tourists are looking for something nice to take home!”