COMPARTÉS CHOCOLATIER BRINGS A BRENTWOOD TRADITION INTO THE 21ST CENTURY
By Califia Suntree
Photography by Becky Reams
“They are treasures to me. They’re battered note cards, with drips on them,” says Grahm.
He still uses her English toffee and marzipan recipes, but surely she never could have imagined the delicious concoctions that would bear her name 62 years later—truffles with flavors like Mango-Chipotle, Pear and Cheese, and Birthday Cake (white chocolate ganache studded with pastel sprinkles). That’s all Grahm’s doing—his inventive, whiz-kid persona and design-savvy flair is taking the venerable candy shop in an entirely new direction.
There were Beanie Babies everywhere.” Grahm’s father and grandmother, Robert and Ruthie, bought the business in 1998; Jonathan was only 15, and working as a shipping clerk, when he was inspired to try his hand at candy making. His first creation, Love Nuts, salty-sweet flavor bombs of caramelized nuts rolled in sea salt and dipped in milk chocolate, are still a top seller 10 years later. He was barely out of his teens, and a student at UCLA, when he took over chocolatier duties; the media took notice, and he was soon dubbed LA’s “chocolate prodigy.”
After several redesigns and upgrades, including a 2006 makeover courtesy of the short-lived A&E show Designing Blind, Compartés has reclaimed its glamour.
The Beanie Babies long evicted, the chic, understated storefront now boasts gleaming cases of over 200 constantly rotating, seasonally accented truffles. And the Hollywood elite have returned, too. Recent custom clients include HBO, Disney and Bravo, and the list of Grahm’s celeb fans is a mile long: Klum, Pitt, Beckham, various Desperate Housewives…. “Compartés was a forgotten treasure,” says Grahm.
“By breathing life into it, it’s gotten back on the map.” And Grahm’s map is a global one—Compartés now has seven locations in Tokyo, a phenomenon he attributes to the brand’s celebrity sheen and his obsessive attention to aesthetic details.
“I know my chocolate is good,” says Grahm, “so I now have to focus on doing things to differentiate myself in the marketplace.” He labored for two years on the lines, and the results— with flavors like Coney Island (milk chocolate with caramelized waffle cones) and Love Potion (orange peel and pink peppercorn)— would be welcome additions to anyone’s Christmas stocking.
With a not-so-modest goal of transforming a Westside stalwart “into the coolest, hippest chocolate shop in the world,” Grahm seems to be providing a shot in the arm to LA’s chocolate scene. “I’m a third generation native Angeleno,” says Grahm. “Let’s do something for us to be proud of.”
912 South Barrington Avenue
Brentwood, CA 90049