I am just another fucked up hippie with a good job....
I have, in no particular order, been:
a commercial fisherman
a tye dye maker
a B&B owner
a burger flipper
a radio program director
a radio personality
a band manager
a political analyst
a pofessional slacker
being a famous chocolatier is just one more position that was neither planned on, nor executed with anything more than a dream and the ability to incur massive debt.
so....for those of you who admire people like me, just remember the words of the immortal dr.frankenfurter:
I assume you don't have to go to school to be some of the things you have been...
but do you have to have done them in order to be chocolatier? If so, I have less hope of success. What have we others done? For me:
hostess at restaurant
high school teacher
political analyst (amateur)
Or is annoying mom with hippie-like behaviour the key?
Well Jeff, at least you don't fit the stereotype of stuck-up, aren't I just wonderful chocolatier.
Here's my story. Born and raised in Johannesburg. Came to the USA in 1976. Tasted a Hershey bar and spat it out. My Mom was a chocolate lover way back when. So I grew up eating good sweets and chocolates...imported and local.
I "fell into" chocolate in 1984, when a friend of a friend had recently married. His Mom(in Wisconsin) made some sort of confection with peanut butter. So he wanted to sell them in Manhattan. It was perfect timing as the gourmet food shops were beginning to sprout up everywhere. However, he wasn't into sales. So I did. At that time he was a struggling actor. His part time job was driving Peggy Lee to her nightly Broadway show. He had her limo and would drive me to drop off the orders. For those of you too young to know about Peggy Lee; she was a famous jazz singer.
Anyway, to continue. I started building orders and he didn't want to "sit at home making chocolate." So we split the few hundred bucks we had and I went on my journey. I began to dabble with truffle. There was no internet in those days AND there were no microwaves either (I feel like a relic). So I took myself off to the New York City Library. All I could find was Candy Industry, but it was a gold mine. I taught myself how to temper chocolate and since I have always had an inquiring mind and have never been afraid to tackle anything, I was on my way. Schlepping my big brown bags of boxes of truffles on the subway to stores, and hotels. I was in my early 30's and had lots of enthusiasm and energy. Most people didn't know what a truffle was back then. Then I moved to Vermont in 1991. I got reviews in many publications including the New York Times, Business Week and more. However, I had no desire to open a shop. I have a lot of freedom that way. Besides I couldn't stand to watch stuff get stale as it does when sitting in counters or in boxes. Most of my business is wholesale and the rest comes from my website. When I say it's freshly made, you can be assured it's freshly made within a week of shipping. I have conducted many taste tests and I find that just about all of them are lousy. Stale and tasteless or stale and tasting like cheap perfume. The industry is filled with big egos whose prices are through the roof, but the quality and freshness is under par n my opinion. I was most definitely the first (1996)to come out with a range of chocolate bars; my Mooonlight in Vermont in 8 varieties. The packaging is unique and whimsical. And I think that 13 years and still growing, it has stood the test of time. Everything is made by hand. The almond bars have whole almonds which cannot be done by machine, that's why you get crushed almonds in all other bars.
I am glad to hear that Jeff is a down to earth "character" like myself. My next endeavor is to play around with bean to bar. For relaxation I am a lampworker. I make glass beads. Only in the winter, since it would be unbearable to sit at a torch that's around a gazillion degrees, beside a kiln that's around 1000F. I am also a poet and writer and am working on my memoir of growing up in South Africa So there you have my story. Come visit, come take a class with me. Linda