My name's Jacob and I'm from a town called Pontypridd, in Wales UK. I'm a chef by trade but have always had a passion for chocolate and confectionery like hard candies and jellies. I've decided that, after helping my wife setup a business making chutneys and preserves, I want to set up my own venture making chocolates and confectionery. So I've bought a book called "Chocolates and Confections" By Peter Greweling to try and teach myself to make chocolates as I'm on a tight budget.
My question is am I going to get enough of a grounding in producing chocolates to start a small chocolate business just by learning what is being taught in that book or are there other books I need to learn from before I even consider starting a chocolate business?
Is it even possible to start a chocolate business being self taught?
PS I have looked at chocolate courses in the UK, but they are expensive residential courses.
Thanks in advance for reading!
I recommend ecole chocolat's online course. Very useful in depth info and will for sure help you start up your business.
If you are on a tight budget, start with making chocolates as a hobby. Develop your skills with chocolate and sample them out to friends and family. When you start to get several dozens of replies like "You should sell these" and getting several personal orders, then you could consider a small side business similar to your wife's preserve business. Should you quit your day job and become a full time chocolatier tomorrow with no developed skills? - the answer is definitely not. Just as you developed skill as a chef, the same effort is required for professional level chocolate work.
Peter Grewelings book is excellent, but there is no such thing as too many books. There are many specialty books on chocolate and confections available. Research and buy what interests you at the time. The key to books is you actually have to use them. Don't be a collector of chocolate books, be a user of chocolate books. Collecting is easy, using them takes a lot of work.
Be willing to "unlearn" what you've learned incorrectly. No one book has "ALL" the answers. Authors of books write with certain assumptions about what you may or may not already know. There are certain details about recipes that are assumed and would be too laborious in detail to specify. This is why having many books for reference is necessary. If you are having a problem with a certain recipe, you need to be able to cross reference with other books in order to find out what you are doing wrong.
Find someone who can be critical of your results. Hopefully your wife has good taste buds and can tell you if something is good or it needs more work. Having someone keep you in line and tell you whether or not something is good is critical. Self teachers tend to be a little too easy on themselves, when they need to be corrected.
If you are going to self teach yourself chocolates and confections (as with any major subject), it will be a long road, will take much effort, there will be significant struggle, but in the end it will all be worth it.
As Scott said:
practice practice practice! save the money and time of "ecole chocolat" you better buy 1 professional book at time and learn!
If you can buy one of those melanger from cocoatown and a bag of beans, try to understand cocoa beans and chocolate.
This forum as well is very helpful!!
As chef you should be already aware of food costing and recipe calculation, that should be an advantage.
Keep working in a kitchen (to make money..) and start as hobby till you have a budget and feasible business plan.
Buy small tools first (few spatulas, bowls, policarbonate molds) and use a double boiler to melt your first batches of chocolate to temper.
Careful, cause specialized tools and tempering machine of any sort can cost a lot, but practically you can start with few $100...
plan your self 1 or maybe 2 years before you go solo...
h of corse i forgot.. you need a lot of passion! chocolate makes you first happy and maybe later rich... is a lot of small money, but it is worth it every time someone bites into one of your creation and they smile!
Best of luck and keep posted, there are a lot of "friends" here to help!!
Thanks very much for the advice guys, I'll definitely take everything you've said on board and learn from it!!