The Chocolate Life

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        So I call myself a hobbyist but my husband believes I could potentially create a business out of my chocolate love.  I have been teaching myself for about three years from books, a little youtube, and DVDS. I live in Las Vegas and in town I have a few options to take classes but they range from $500 at the community college to 2,000-3,000 for a series of classes with major chocolatiers.  I have a friend who is a baker who feels that if I am serious about chocolate I should go to culinary school for baking.  I am told that apart of many baking programs there are chocolate classes.  I am not really interested in baking however just chocolate.

        At this point I feel that if I had some training I would love to do something with my chocolate passion.  But I am not sure what is needed.  Is it better to go to culinary school and as my friend put it "get a full rounded education" or is it enough to take a few chocolate classes.  The other idea I had was maybe convince a shop to take me on as an apprentice.  I am willing to do the work to learn but what is the best way to go about it if I want to eventually be a professional chocolatier?

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You have Chef Rubber in Vegas that offers courses taught by some of Las Vegas's top chocolatiers. I also like your apprenticing idea. Find out if you really like it as a profession.

Personally, I don't think you need to go to culinary school.  You will spend more time there on baking and things other than chocolate work.  It sounds like you are already competent in tempering and the basics so I think you'd be better served by taking more specific advanced chocolate classes.  Chef Rubber is a good place to start but I haven't seen any classes on their schedule lately that are for a more advanced "hobbyist" (as I suspect you are).  If you have the time and funds to travel I'd keep an eye on the class schedules for Notter in Florida as well as The French Pastry School in Chicago.  In particular you should consider the class taught in Chicago by Jean Pierre Wybauw.  It runs about 3 days and you will learn a tremendous amount from him.  It says the class is for professionals but you would be totally fine since you have experience.  I think the idea of a local internship is a good one as well  -  do it at a place where you like the product or is in line with what you envision our products to be (i.e. same quality or look)

I know Callebaut has The Chocolate Academy in Chicago, you can definitely find a class or 2 there with your skill.

http://www.chocolate-academy.com/us/en/calendar?country=us,oper=det...

I tried the ecole chocolat online school for starters. Then did two internships to further my education because I'm a visual learner and believe you can't beat the hands-on for honing techniques and getting ideas.   These gave me a great base to start with before I launched my business.

Lici...You sound like I sounded years ago.  There are careers to be had in chocolate...they are fun, rewarding, fulfilling and possibly best of all, recession proof! I think it's a shame when a person has a passion for something and fails to follow their dream and their gut.  So many 'woulda, shoulda, coullda's' out there!  I am part of a chocolate business, a relatively new franchise that offers chocolate making along with a variety of other experiences in chocolate and other revenue streams that might be just right for you.  You may want to check out www.tastyimage.com and get some information on starting a career in chocolate that way.  If not, I think ANY business with chocolate is a winner and positive step on a path to a new life!  Best of luck to you and your new, smooth and creamy decision!  

You certainly wouldn't want to take a bakery course if you want to do chocolate. My husband and I started with a little dipper and eventually had a store. We were mostly self taught. We did get the name of a woman in PA who would teach us for a few days in her home.  Then a year later she came to our store for a few days.

That was back in the early 90's. My husband is deceased. I am just starting a business again and am enjoying it.

The Cargill Co. in Lititz, PA, (I might have spelled that town wrong), has a three day chocolate course for those wanting to start a business. Two days are classroom and then one day of hands on. The hands on is simplistic if you've been making chocolate, but you can pick the experts brains.

I found the class room days to be very interesting.

I'm also in the same situation. I found the courses from ecole but I'm not sure what to take for my first course. I want to make chocolate with flavor, not truffles in  the beginning, but maybe using moulds.  I'd like to eventually make chocolate from bean to bonbon so where should I start?

The National Confectioners Assn has Several courses, one (I believe) that is for bean to bar instruction. I believe they also run a 2 week all-inclusive class. Check their website frequently for schedules.

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