Belgian chocolate businesses are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, according to one of the country's leading businessmen.
Pierre Marcolini, who owns some of Belgium's most famous chocolate stores, said that these times are particularly difficult for the industry.
"Everyone has suffered from the lockdowns, everyone. We suffer at different levels, at the same time, obviously, in terms of turnover. We do not have our tourists who are usually there. We have, indeed, a lack of customers. The second thing in which we suffer is the perspective. You know, as an entrepreneur ,when you have your staff, your chocolate craftsmen, who come to you and say, 'Sir, what's going to happen in December?' And you can't answer them, it's scary."
But there is also some positivity to come out of this year. Marcolini has been awarded 2020 World's Best Pastry Chef, for the second time in his illustrious career.
"This title symbolises my whole career over the 25 years. I hope there will be more, we're not finished yet. This punctuates a moment of my career, of a team, of a house where we worked on different concepts but especially in a different way I would say. That is to say that we tried to make chocolates that are responsible, we made pastries but by working locally, we avoid dyes. And all these advances that have modernised a pastry shop, that have modernised the world of chocolate," Marcolini said of his award.
And this is helping him to stay optimistic throughout the pandemic, keeping the Christmas holidays in mind as a potential restart for businesses across Belgium.
But as his team prepare for the festive season, this one is sure to be different from any other one.