Why does nearly every chocolatier I call get all weird with me when I ask what couverture they use? I often get a "Who are you again?" or "We use a secret blend of *expensive chocolate*, *list of cheap chocolates*" or my personal favorite, "We use the finest."
Hey Clay, what about setting up a page that listed chocolatiers and their couvertures? I'd hate to keep this Guittard client list all to myself. ;)
Seeing as her comment was directed at me, I feel I need to respond. I never said anything about percentages, and trying or not trying them. What I said was that if a chocolatier couldn't / wouldn't tell me what chocolate they use, I wouldn't make a purchase.
As someone who makes my own chocolate, and samples beans from all over the world, what would be the point of wasting money on crap?
I know enough about this industry, that if you start with crap chocolate, it doesn't really matter WHAT you do - it will more or less be crap masked with a flavour (which is usually a crappy flavour too because if the chocolatier doesn't know/care to use good chocolate, they sure as hell won't know / care to use good ingredients in the rest).
In the software industry they call this principle GIGO (Garbage In - Garbage Out)
It's not about being able to tell what the chocolate is by taste or about being close-minded to a technicality... I have no respect and no regard for chocolate professionals that seek to cultivate an environment of ignorance.
Gwen: your challenge for me to lay my cards on the table is kind of dumb, given the fact that on May 26 at 4:53pm you posted a comment in this thread proving that you'd visited my company's website. YOU KNOW that Choklat makes it's own chocolate. Hell, it says so right on the homepage!!!
Having said that, the recipe for our 70% eating chocolate is 40% bean, 30% cocoa butter, 29.6% Sugar, and 0.6% Madagascan Vanilla.
I use liquid Soy Lecithin in my milk chocolate only, as it's needed to make it fluid enough to mold into bars.
ALL of the products that my company makes are made with our own chocolate.
One last thing: You ask why you should use our product. Well.... I won't sell it to you. I won't sell it to ANYONE wholesale. Period. I've had some of the most prominent chefs and culinary experts in Canada ask to use it and I've turned them all down. This will include you. Why? Two reasons:
1. Our chocolate is of such high quality that by the end of this year, demand will outstrip what I can produce (about 30,000lbs per year) at full retail price. I don't need to sell it at wholesale prices to anyone.
2. The minute our chocolate leaves the door I can't guarantee that the person using it for their baking/confections and then using our name in conjunction with their product is going to do a worthy job. Hence I would rather NOT make chocolate, than have my product represented poorly by some idiot who turned their fountain up too high, or added vegetable oil to it, and then promoted it as "Choklat's Chocolate". Yikes.... That runs shivers up and down my spine just thinking of it!
One last thing (I know I said that before, but I get the impression Gwen, that your business is quite small. Hopefully you can use this tip to your benefit):
You say you serve corporate heads, and CEO's.... They are your discriminating customers. Fine, but not a smart move business-wise. They people you should be marketing to are their executive assistants, for it is THEY who make the decisions about buying chocolate, and for the most part, NOT the CEO.
A typical conversation goes something like this:
Bob: "Jennifer, next month I wish to hold a gala event for 200 of our top performing employees. The budget for this event will be $20,000. Can you arrange it please?"
Jennifer: "I'm on it Bob."
Jennifer then works her tail off to organize everything on time and on budget.
This is how it works everywhere in the real world. If you don't believe me, try calling "Bob". Unless he's your best fishing buddy, you will ALWAYS be intercepted by Jennifer, because she knows that Bob is too busy to dwell in the petty detail of what chocolate goes with the place settings, and if Jennifer were to trouble him with it, he'd get pissed off.
Just out of curiosity, how much chocolate have you actually MADE in your career? You seem to be quite the authority on what is needed and not needed, and what makes a difference and what doesn't make a difference in making chocolate.
You also seem pretty smug with your reply about my searching for white chocolate with no vanilla. Yet, instead of helping, and providing the source you gloat about it and provide no info. Don't worry though, I made 15lbs of my own in a small refiner I've built for testing samples I receive.
Having said all of that, I currently receive beans from the following locations:
Jim Lucas's Plantation in Brazil (combination of forastero and Criollo)
Cuygua district of Venezuela (Criollo)
Ocumare De Lacosta region of Venezuela (Criollo)
Tobasco Mexico (Porcelana from Claire Echevaria's estate)
Sugar... I've used both Cane sugar and refined white sugar, and neither have a significant impact on the flavour of the chocolate one way or the other.
So, Gwen Borders, I've answered ALL of your questions, and in the light of this thread's topic relating to secrecy, how about answering some questions for me?
1. Do you buy cocoa beans and make your own chocolate?
2. If so, where do YOU get your cocoa from and what varietal is it?
3. Please explain in detail (we're all here to learn right?), and on what authority you have that says the type of sugar used makes a difference in the manufacture of chocolate.
4. How can you say that milk chocolate doesn't need lecithin to improve its fluidity for molding? Have you made milk chocolate with every conceivable combination of powdered milk, sugar, cocoa mass, and cocoa butter?
5. In the past 10 months since opening Choklat for the first time I've made a scant 10,000 lbs of milk and dark chocolate in my little shop, right from the cocoa beans I import, then molded it into 10,000 bars and over 35,000 truffles, 4,500 brownies, and on, and on. Please enlighten me with your worldly hands on experience, and show me where I'm going so wrong. By the way, in the light of complete public disclosure, here are some interesting tidbits to chew on:
Gross Sales Year 1: $275,000
Advertising $ Spent: $0.00
Average Food Cost: 14%
Average Labour Cost: 22%
Retail Value of Product Given As Promotion: $2,200.00
These are public numbers I will have to disclose to any potential future franchisee. They are completely accurate.
Here's an opportunity to make me look bad Gwen. Answer my questions. Put my statistics to shame. After all, you've been in business longer than Choklat has.
Two cents,this discussion is exactly why I joined.Insightful and informative.I've found the shops around here(S.E.Florida)are willing to share as related to quality/price.The lower end will give you the keys to the store. The self preceived highend is tight lipped.My experience in retail was to treat customers like family,take their side against the company(the companys' directive).However you never under any circumstance dropped the price. The veiw was that the customer was getting the best value in the market place.
I feel that I cannot NOT reply.
First, what works for one business may not work for another, there is no wrong here IMHO. I will be totally blunt. I get a bad vibe from this thread. I feel like Brad comes across as though he knows it all, has it all right and I feel he puts down Gwen. I think there is a bit of an obsession here in his chocolate making and business and it is a turn off.
I am sure both Gwen and Brad have more knowledge than I so I cannot even begin to say who is more correct. However, Brad you do sound pompous. I do not mean to offend.
BTW, Why is "Bob" a man and "Jennifer" a female? And I am not a loud "feminist".
If I had to choose, I must admit, I would buy from Gwen.
Customers are really the only ones who can decide if the chocolate is of highest quality. It is their opinion. A person may have the highest quality chocolate in his knowledgeable opinion. But perhaps it is not what many customers are after.
A business may start out really well and over the years this can change. Even "crappy" chocolate can make millions, not that I want that kind of business, but it is a legitimate business nonetheless, one that lasts years and years.
Anyway, I don't feel like writing an article based on statements, phrases and expressions used in this thread and their respective proofs to prove a point, just to make note that in general Brad sounds arrogant and knowledgeable both in chocolate and business and Gwen sounds fair, nice, down to earth and expert in all areas as well.
You're correct that the previous post comes across as pompous - if read by itself. In it you will also read that I'm asking questions. I feel it's only fair that if someone is asking for my qualifications and sources, they too should come to the table with answers to questions - the same questions that have been asked of me and completely honestly answered.
Yes, I know a lot about chocolate. But I don't know everything. To profess that I do would in fact be arrogant.
What I do know is that Gwen asked me a lot of questions, and also for whatever reason pasted a request I placed in the www.Seventypercent.com website, asking for white chocolate with no vanilla. She then followed it up with an "I know somebody..." but didn't have the courtesy to share.
In all honesty, I felt that it was if she was trying to "bring me down a notch".
She went through all that effort to, (again in my opinion) try and make me look bad, yet didn't bother to provide the contact information of a company that made vanilla free white chocolate - a source which as she posted above, claims to have.
Online forums like this are great ways to share knowledge. However if people are going to put posts in here without contributing, then, in my opinion it should be within our right to ask that person back up what they say - which is exactly what I did (except for the last paragraph, where I was a bit pissed off).
I answered her questions, and asked her questions in return. It's only fair. (except, like I said, the last part, for which I apologize to the group.)