I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate on a panel of local women chocolate experts at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. The subject - Women and Chocolate: A Natural Combination
How did that happen? Melena, owner of The Xocolate Bar in Berkeley asked me how I felt about public speaking. I suspiciously answered that I was better at demonstrating something like truffle making rather than being perched behind a podium. When she explained the panel-style of the discussion and that I'd be one of four, I eagerly agreed.
A couple of weeks before the discussion, us panelists, the moderator and the organizer met to get to know each other and develop some pointed questions. What do you love about the chocolate business, what could you do without? Any advice for people trying to get into the chocolate business? What are some of the latest trends in chocolate?
But one of the more provocative questions was, Most of the nationally renowned chocolatiers are men. Why is that?
I found this most intriguing because I didn't know how to answer it. I and my other women chocolate-centric friends could only name a couple of "renowned" woman chocolatiers, Katrina Markoff of Vosges Haut-Chocolat
and Fran Bigelow of Fran's Chocolates
and of course Alice Medrich. Who else? Try putting the phase, "women chocolatiers" into Google and the results are very thin indeed.
After pondering the issue for a few days I decided to pose the question to the members of The Chocolate Life, an online forum of "chocophiles". Although the thread went a bit astray from the topic, I still got some insight. Perhaps it's true that women have not had the same opportunity as men. There seems to be an increasing number of women in the culinary field and I hope that number will soon be reflected in the chocolate field as well.
What do you think? I invite you to answer the question.
Women and Chocolate are A Natural Combination
and have historically had a close relationship. You'd think that women would dominate the industry. Maybe we four will be the next nationally renowned chocolatiers... despite our sex.
An opportunity to speak at the Commonwealth Club
and be associated with such amazing women.
Kathy Wiley - Poco Dolce
Christine Doerr - Neo Cocoa
Malena Lopez-Maggi - The Xocolate Bar
Mindy Fong -Jade Chocolates