Le Bon Garcon

American Made Since 2011

Justin Chao

Moorpark, California
We've brought a little bit of France to California--in the form of hand-made artisan caramels made with the finest of ingredients.

Tell us about your business.

During a semester abroad in Paris, I fell in love with French culture and French food. In fact, I intentionally stacked all of my classes on Fridays so that I could spend the week exploring Paris. I discovered that I had a weakness for French pastry, especially pain au chocolat. (I ate one every morning for breakfast!) After returning home to Los Angeles, I yearned for my time spent in Paris. Eventually I gave in to my passion for French pastry and enrolled at the prestigious Bellouet Conseil in Paris followed by an internship at Le Meurice. During my culinary training, I discovered French caramel. I became obsessed with learning how to make the best caramel possible. I made batch after batch of caramel until I felt like I had perfected the technique. When I returned home, I made caramel for friends. After seeing my friends' reactions, I decided to start Le Bon Garcon. With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, I have been able to make my dream a reality.

What makes your business stand out?

Le Bon Garcon was born out of my passion for creating the best caramel possible. Each batch is made in French copper pots in order to create a soft, supple texture that is not possible otherwise. Just before we pour our caramel into frames to cool, we add Maldon salt in order to add a salty crunch to excite the palette. The result is a sea salt caramel with a buttery texture and subtle crunch that melts slowly in the mouth. In addition to our classic sea salt caramel, we also offer seasonal fruit caramels. Our seasonal offerings have included flavors such as Mango-Passionfruit Caramel and Blood Orange Caramel. We start with fresh fruit purees and wholesome ingredients such as cream and butter. We then add in exotic spices in order to brighten the fruit flavors resulting in a truly gourmet indulgence.

What's the best business advice you've received?

The best business advice I've received is to never stop learning. I love that my career in the culinary arts allows me to learn something new everyday. Each meal that I eat has become a learning experience by which I can learn from the experience of other chefs. My passion for the culinary arts has also led me to pursue a graduate degree in Food Science. By learning about the science behind how people taste food, I constantly find ways to improve my product. In addition, I learn more about food justice and sustainability through the opportunities for community service that my graduate program provides. The more that I volunteer with local food charities, the more I learn about how I can contribute to the community as a small business owner. I have discovered that my business has taken on new meaning and significance in my life. I now realize that I can contribute to society while following my dreams.

Mark Your Calendar

  • Nominations
    June 3–Aug. 29, 2014

    Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.

  • Judging
    June 23–Sept. 9, 2014

    Judges will select finalists throughout this period.

    Meet the judges
  • Online Voting
    Sept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014

    Vote for your favorite American makers.

    See the finalists
  • Winners Announced
    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
  • American Made Event
    Nov. 7–8, 2014

    Join us for our annual event in New York City.

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