Of course, they do don’t be silly. But, what does it take to become a respected chocolatier? If you’re thinking that it involves an elaborate ceremony in which you are baptized in a pool of molten chocolate while chanting Chocolate Rain and wearing nothing but a chocolate loin-cloth then you’d be wrong. Although that would be pretty epic, and I allow the Chocolatier Certification Board to use my idea freely (hint hint). Here are some interesting facts about the art of making chocolate and the men and women that selflessly dedicate themselves to a food that helps us during horrible break-ups.
Eat tons of chocolate and apply to the epically named Chocolate Academy (which is surprisingly not located in Disneyland) or the Ecole Chocolate School. If you have a flair for confections, you can even consider initially studying culinary arts and then specializing in Colombian Brown Gold, not to be confused with Colombian White Gold. Unless, of course, you are cramming for an exam and need a bit of extra oomph and/or a cocaine induced heart attack (which is why you shouldn’t confuse Colombian White Gold with Brown Gold).
What a Chocolatier’s Education involve
How’s it pay
It pays surprisingly well for a job that only requires a vocational degree. The bottom end can earn a competent chef-chocolatier $20.000 a year and someone working at a large prestigious confectionary like Godiva can make upwards of $90.000.
This widely sliding scale takes into consideration previous experience, level of education and of course talent. Yes, as I mentioned above due to its artistic nature, talented chocolatiers can meteorically rise if their aforementioned talent is appreciated or found.
Katrina Markoff is an intriguing and stereotype destroying personality in the culinary world. Graduating from the prestigious Vanderbilt University in Chemistry and Psychology, Markoff embarked on a culinary journey that would put her at the helm of a $30 million a year chocolate leviathan. Wanting to pursue her dream of studying the culinary arts, after graduating she moved to Paris and enrolled (in the even more prestigious school) Le Cordon Bleu (the same one Julia Childs studied at).
She travelled the world interning with the world best chefs and finally returned to the United States. There she made her first overtly creative confection that was a Naga Curry and Coconut Truffle. She had found her calling and created in that same night nine different flavor profiles that challenged, excited and astounded.
Part chocolatier part artistic culinary provocateur Love gave up a high paying corporate job with the Ritz-Carlton chain to open up a chocolate boutique. I say boutique, but it could easy be an edible art gallery, as his process has as much visual excitement as it does flavor excitement using exotic spices and the finest quality chocolate.
Love has perfected his process involving hand-painting and airbrushing the outside of his chocolates with vibrant colors. He is considered one of the best chocolatier in Northern America. I mean just look at this man’s work and tell me you don’t want to live in one of his exquisite bon-bons.
So at this point you’re probably drooling and excessively craving chocolate…sorry, I’m just evil like that. You probably also thinking what is the Shangri-La, the Mecca, the Jerusalem of the chocolate world. Well, this is a question that has started wars (eh, verbal one’s at least) and has been an ongoing debate that is as heated as the New York vs. Chicago pizza. Every country in the world makes good chocolate and crappy chocolate, but not unlike sex and pizza even bad chocolate is pretty good.
OK, if we were to follow historical context Switzerland and Belgium would undeniably come out on top, but then you have the edgy alchemists of cuisine that reside in New York, L.A. and Chicago. Finally, let’s not forget the people that actually invented and named the ambrosial food stuff, Mexico. Where to go, where to go?
That’s the great thing about chocolate, it’s everywhere and has been used since 400 A.D. and since the 16th century in Europe. But you want to crawl into the fragrant bosom of the chocolate goddess. Well, the most chocolate consuming nation in the world is Switzerland, and considering their long running love affair with the cocoa goddess it makes sense. The average Switzerlandonian? Swisser? Anyway, the average person from Switzerland eats a whopping tooth-rotting 20.13 kg of chocolate a year. They basically eat a one-year-old child’s weight in chocolate a year. I don’t why I used that example as it seems a little grotesque, but there aren’t many things that are around 20 kg. How about….13.33333333333333333333333333333333 coconuts? Eh, a little better.
A little Political Rant
OK, so the sweet confection has delighted the elite for many years prior to it being available at a cost where the simple folks (like me and you) could enjoy it. Dark chocolate isn’t the only dark side this heavenly treat has, though. During its early days, it motivated and funded a huge slave industry that worked indigenous population to death (via either disease or exhaustion).
Even today chocolate production is steeped in exploitation of the cocoa farmers that produce it in third world countries for multi-billion dollar corporations that have no respect for the environment or the communities that harvest the cocoa for them. These corporations are responsible for clear cutting acres upon acres of luscious rainforest to create land for cocoa farming. Luckily the world has finally caught up with them, and although many corporations still use nefariously sourced cocoa, many companies have made the switch to ethically sourced chocolate.
Are you a chocolatier? I like free chocolate! Let me know in the comment section below.