In a little brick building nestled near the beautiful Cathedral Hill in downtown Saint Paul, beekeeping chocolatier, Mademoiselle Miel designs her honey-sweetened confections. This past Monday, I visited her studio. The room smelled like warm cocoa and the decor mimicked the elegant designs found on her chocolate boxes. I was greeted by an assistant of Mademoiselle Miel, Abby, who was working on creating a batch of new chocolates. The holiday season is a busy time of year for Susan Brown, a.k.a. “Mademoiselle Miel”, who is one of North America’s leading chocolatiers.
Miel, which means honey in french, is the special ingredient in Susan Brown’s work. The confectionist cares for a number of rooftop beehives throughout the Twin Cities. This locally produced honey sweetens her chocolates.
Honey, cocoa, and 25K gold leaf complete Mademoiselle Miel’s bon-bons: a combination of sustainable practices, exquisite taste, and artistry. Here are some words from Mademoiselle Miel herself about her work:
What inspired your pursuit of a career in food?
I'm always inspired by my mother. She trained as a chef and that no doubt had influence on my life.
How do you see food as an art form? How do you see the two combined in your work?
As I developed artistically, I became more interested in ways to interact more directly with the audience. Making "art food" literally becomes a part of the receiver.
Could you explain the process and concept behind your Honey Bon-Bons?
Honey Bon-Bons are all about ingredients. Honey has become the most exceptional food made by nature to me. I wanted to re-introduce it with that perspective. Encased inside 100% chocolate gives it a chance to sing but also compliments the darkness.
Do you see your bon-bons as an impactful initiative to create urban homes for bees? How would you hope to expand this initiative?
I think we've already become aware of integrated harvesting in urban settings. Keeping bees in the city benefits everyone and the bees too. I will do all I can to continue to promote this!
You incorporate numerous sustainable practices in the creation of your bon-bons, why is this an important element for you as a confectioner and artist?
Sustainability is how I show gratitude. I love this planet and the beauty and abundance it provides. By doing the best I can to respect it helps me feel we have a good relationship together.
What is your hope people appreciate the most from your creations?
Do you have any current special/seasonal flavors?
Current flavors: Ginger-spiced Chai, Orange with Peel, Peppermint Nibs, Maple Caramel. We also make Honey Hot-cocoa Bombs and just started making bean to bar chocolate sweetened with Maple syrup called "North Coast Chocolate".
What are your hopes for the future of your work?
I hope to continue to have the opportunity to create and collaborate with nature and others. It's a great joy to me!
If you’re ever passing along Kellogg Boulevard in historic downtown Saint Paul, peep your head in to admire the mindful craftsmanship that Mademoiselle Miel pours into her Honey Bon-Bons. Her Honey Kitchen and Showroom are open to the public on Fridays from 3-9. Her creations are an excellent sweet surprise for your loved ones this Holiday Season. You may order them online or come purchase them this week at the WAM Shop Holiday Sale.
Iris Page I’m a senior English major at the University of Minnesota. Outside of the WAM-sphere, I perform in shows with my friends in the Twin Cities, paint, and work. I enjoy travelling alone and good smells. Cheese is my kryptonite. I own too much floral print. This will be my third year with WAM Collective!