I am a chocolate lover, and i have recently started to consider opening an chocolate shop wih a friend.
I am an artist and at the same time I have been running a family shopping mall.
I want ti change career and have been thinking about the chocolate business.
My friend is a documentalist.
We have been investigating but appart from the love of chocolate i do not know anything about the business.
Any advice>??one of my main concerns is to know if knowing how to make chocolates is a must in order to open the store. Do I need to depend on a chef??any advice welcome.
Maria Teresa from Venezuela
Maria, I would suggest that you consider learning how to make the chocolate yourself - either as a chocolatier or learning the steps from pod to bar (cocoa plantation/fruit and the steps necessary to develop and make chocolate from the seeds or beans as they are called in the chocolate industry).
Starting with your passion is great. However, if you are going to rely on someone else's skill then you are in the position of being the owner of a chocolate shop but not the chocolatier and are relying on someone else's abilities and taste buds.
I do not know what options are available in Venezuela for learning how to make chocolate - what culinary schools and/or chocolate shops that will take you on to train you (less likely as they may not be interested in sharing there "secrets"). I don't know what is up with El-Rey these days but you might approach them.
I can imaging that there are lots of options in Latin America for you to explore this.
Here in the US there are a lot of culinary schools that teach the basics - I myself teach basic chocolate skills in the culinary department at my local small community collage.
The other option is to just read a lot and try things out on your own, though that is harder when you don't know what you are looking for. Many years ago I took a one week class in basic chocolate making which gave me the foundation of the art and chemistry, then I took off from there.
many thanks for your cear reply. Yes I have been investigating a lot about chocolate making and have spend some time with the peope of Birongo(a small chocolate factory) learning the process of chocolate making from the beams.
I am interested in the confectinçonary part and for that there are no places in Venezuela to learn. Yes, i already approached the three companies who are in the confectionary business, and as you well said. They are not interested in sharing their "secrets"....
El Rey is already associated with two of these companies. And is by itself a huge company. I might approach them in the future, but what they are doing is very different from waht I want to do. They do chocolate from the beam, i want to do confections(truffles, etc)
At the moment the onlñy way to learn that I have found is trhough the chocolate university online....not to crazy about the idea, but it is my only posibility at the moment.
At the same time I continue to built my business idea and talk to people in the culinary business to try to find someone who will be willing to work with me.
I have come to realise with all the research that my business can not rely on a person I do not know(the chocolatier) this is something that worries me. Therefore I am concentrating my energies on learning about the chocolate making. At the end if I decide to hire someone I will know what to look for.
Thanks again for your words, they are really appreciated.
Your welcome. I wish you luck with finding what you are looking for. I am glad that you've put a lot of thought into your ideas, please continue to do so. Sometimes people don't think things through (speaking from experience here).
I would still encourage you to try to find culinary schools that teach basic chocolate making skills - hands on is really the only way to learn this. I think. I do know that Pam with Ecolechocolat does have a great program online: http://www.ecolechocolat.com/ where you can learn though and it is worth looking into.
I am surprised that there are no places in Venezuela that teach chocolate skills. You might look into traveling, if that is something that is viable. I know with the worlds economy as it is this may not be available to you (nor to me at the moment).
Glad to hear that you already have thought through the whole chef thing.
I would also think of a few other things - (if you have not already, seems you are putting deep thinking into your ideas), that is, consider your market or markets. Where will you set up? Will the population support you and your chocolate? Think about starting small and maybe later growing.
Several years ago I started a small chocolate shop where I live and because of unforeseen circumstances (after only 1 1/2 years) I had to move shop suddenly. I decided to grow into a larger space and it turned out that was a really bad move - for several reasons, one of which was that my overhead almost quadrupled . Because of other things I ended up leaving that shop.
And if you are looking for investment, be really careful of who you allow to invest. Partnerships can turn ugly if you do not have firm agreements down on paper.
All the best in your endeavors!