The Chocolate Life

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I was a little perplexed a few months ago while doing a joint chocolate and wine pairing event. The neighbor next to me, a chocolate maker whom shall remain nameless, kept on informing the patrons that they were not re-melters. She made it a point to inform people that their chocolate company actually makes chocolate from the bean. Her insistence on giving out this piece of information and using such a degrading term as 're-melter' didn't sit well with me. By using such an adjective, it belittles the craft of truffle-making and bar blending.

I would love for this young company to go up to a guy like Recchuiti and say, 'Hey man, sit back, you're just a re-melter.'

I make it a point to inform my customers of who's chocolate I use. I do not pretend to be a chocolate maker. This company in question, however, fails to see how they may lose business by the use of such a derogatory word. Do they plan to only make a living my selling direct to the end user (chocolate consumer), becuase I would never endorse any chocolatier to do business with such a company.

What are your thoughts?

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Unless you're talking about a large company like Godiva or Ghirardelli (, you may just benefit for publicizing this company with your experience.
" Re-melters" are responsible for most of the sales aren't they
Hello, all. I know I'm very late to this discussion, but I only recently joined and this particular event was very similar to something I experienced. I was so glad to learn I wasn't the only one.

I participated in the 2008 Seattle Chocolate Salon, and while there, I visited many of the other booths to see what everyone was doing. While talking with someone from the Theo booth, one of the people staffing it (no idea what her role was) said something to the effect of "You're just one of those people who melts others people's chocolate and uses it like an ingredient." My thought at the time was, uh, yeah ... but do we really need the attitude? And she made me really question her manners when she later came to my booth and snarked about my white chocolate confections, saying "It's not real chocolate." Hmm. (I was particularly offended because I like the idea behind Theo, and I've introduced a lot of people to their products.)

I don't call myself a chocolate maker, as the distinction was slapped into me very early on by a prickly chef in pastry school. If pressed, I'll use the term chocolatier; but I usually just tell people I make sweets. Or I make chocolates (with the "s") and candies. Or chocolate candies. Or tasty treats. And in the end, I figure the product is what's important. If I like what I'm doing, and I'm happy with the results, I don't really care too much what label people put on me. But I will admit, it does rankle when they're rude to my face.

And Mindy: I just thought I'd mention that my sister is quite a fan of yours. She even told me once that she likes your chocolates (uh, products) more than she likes mine. She is, of course, dead to me now. ;-)
Ah, sisterly quarrels! You gotta love them!
I have come to the chocolate making world late in my life. I have been an artist, an engineer and a policy maker. I came into the chocolate world for the purpose of helping Jamaican farmers get a better price for their chocolate and to see if I can start a sustainable business both in Oakland, CA as well as stimulate sustainable business in Jamaica because as a policy maker I have been preaching sustainable development for decades. I have enjoyed learning how to ferment and hope that sometime before I am too feeble, I can focus some years on the variations in the art of fermenting.

When I was in art school, I studied ceramic art and painting. In ceramics we made our own clay. As a painter, I didn't make my own paint. I never thought myself less of an artist as a painter because of that. I think it's interesting that technical wrangling over materials didn't occur in the fine art world. The focus was on the quality of the final art work.

The real interest I have as an artist/engineer/sustainable development advocate/chocolatemaker and chocolatier is in the quality of the final product and transparency to the public about what process went into it so that we can compete fairly (is that an oxymoron?). If someone's final product is superb and they control every aspect from bean to bar to bonbon, that deserves recognition. If someone's final product is superb and they use chocolate processed by someone else, it doesn't reduce the quality of their final taste treat. It does reflect a difference in investment and complexity in control of the many elements. But like a painter, the chocolate artisan who chooses his/her supplies thoughtfully to capture the qualities of those supplies in their final more complex product is no less an artisan than someone who makes it from beans.
"You're just one of those people who melts others people's chocolate and uses it like an ingredient."

"Yeah, it's like you buy organic compounds, process them into, say, red pigment, add inclusions and process further into paint... I make the Ferrari."

Snobbery aside, the finest chocolate, is still, essentially a soft commodity.
To create an edible piece of art -visually& tastefully- skillfully choosing the best ingredients. That is a true "chocolatier".
I agree somewhat ... BUT there is a skill that requires knowing about what to "melt" into your chocolate (and what chocolate you are "melting" in the first place). It is kind of like saying all coffeemakers are the same because it is all coffee. But obviously there are many different types of coffee and ways to blend them to inspire different tastes. My favorite chocolatier is Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges. She was the first in the US to really think about chocolate in artisanal form. She is featured today on girl crush.
Sonya, I get that you like that blog post... but please refrain from such asinine comments as "She was the first in the US to really think about chocolate in artisanal form." It is flat out insulting to actual artisans, you know the types... they actually make their products instead of having a factory floor full of industrial equipment turning out millions of dollars worth of over-margined, over-marketed goods.
I thought she was created as being one of the first in the US to add unique flavors to chocolate? Maybe she was the one who popularized it to the general public?
Using, as you put it, "unique flavors" does not an artisan make.
Jeez -- your replies are just cracking me up! (No offense or insinuation meant by that exclamation, btw.) I fully agree with your implied assessment of Katrina Markoff, but I have to give her credit for her marketing genius. She really is an artist in that area; and I can respect that because it is a skill that continues to elude me.


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