Sweet Success: Exploring the Career of a Chocolatier
I wanted this blog post to have an Easter theme linked to careers. I thought about the whole link between Easter and renewal and how we can view our career path through the same lens… It was all becoming deep and meaningful until I brought myself up sharp and decided to heck with deep and meaningful! Easter = chocolate! Who doesn’t love chocolate? The look, the smell, and the whole gorgeousness of a box of quality chocolates are enough to send me giddy!
A bit of Easter egg history
The gifting of chocolate in an egg-shaped mould can be traced to British chocolatier J.S. Fry & Sons in 1873. Fry’s chocolate eggs were made by pouring molten chocolate into a mould in the shape of an egg, which was then sealed and decorated with coloured chocolate and sugar flowers. The chocolate eggs quickly became popular in England and other parts of Europe, and other chocolate makers began creating their own versions of the treat. Today, the tradition of egg-shaped chocolate treats continues, with many chocolate makers creating elaborate and decorative chocolate eggs for the Easter holiday.
Yup! Great! Bring it on…here at Lancashire Careers Company, we are always up for some nice chocolate! But hey, we are a career company, so what about the career of a person who makes chocolate? We know that they are chocolatiers but what skills do they have? How do you become one? Surely liking and eating chocolate isn’t enough – what else do we need to know? Off we went down the career rabbit hole of a chocolatier!
A chocolatier is…
A chocolatier is a professional specialising in creating chocolate and chocolate-based confections. They are skilled in tempering chocolate, which involves heating and cooling the chocolate to specific temperatures to achieve the desired texture and consistency. Yes, there is definitely a science to the skill of a chocolatier. Chocolate is a complex substance that behaves differently depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, and ingredient ratios. To create the perfect chocolate confection, a chocolatier must understand the science behind chocolate, including its physical and chemical properties.
One important aspect of chocolate-making is tempering, which is the process of heating and cooling chocolate to specific temperatures in order to achieve the desired texture and consistency. Tempering is a precise science that requires careful attention to temperature, timing, and agitation. If the chocolate is not tempered correctly, it can result in a product that is too soft, too hard or has an unappealing appearance. Tempering helps to ensure that the chocolate has a smooth, glossy appearance and a firm texture and that it will not melt too easily when handled or stored. The process of tempering involves melting the chocolate to a high temperature, cooling it down quickly, and then slowly raising the temperature again while stirring the chocolate.
There are several different methods of tempering chocolate, but the most common method involves melting the chocolate to around 115-120°F (46-49°C), then cooling it down to around 80-82°F (27-28°C) by stirring it on a cool surface such as a marble slab. The chocolate is then heated again to around 88-90°F (31-32°C) and is ready to use.
Properly tempered chocolate has a smooth texture and a shiny appearance and will make a crisp “snap” when broken. When used in confections such as truffles, chocolate bars, or moulded chocolates, tempered chocolate will set with a smooth and glossy finish and will not melt too easily in the hands. Sounds fascinating – but who gets to lick the bowl?
The career of a chocolatier requires a blend of artistic and technical skills, as well as a deep understanding of the properties of chocolate and other ingredients. Chocolatiers must be able to work with precision and attention to detail, as even minor variations in temperature or ingredient quantities can affect the final product. To become a chocolatier, it is common to complete specialised training or apprenticeships in chocolate-making. Many culinary schools and universities offer courses or degree programs in pastry and chocolate arts, which can provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in chocolate making. Clearly, there is a lot more to this career than just making pretty things to eat!
Pierre Marcolini is a Belgian chocolatier who is known for his innovative approach to chocolate-making and commitment to using high-quality, ethically sourced ingredients.
He began training in pastry-making and chocolate-making when he was just 14 years old, and he went on to study pastry-making at the prestigious École Hôtelière de Namur in Belgium.
After completing his training, Marcolini worked in several high-end pastry shops and chocolatiers in Belgium and France, including Wittamer, a well-known pastry shop in Brussels. He then spent several years working as a consultant for various chocolate companies, where he honed his skills in chocolate-making and began to develop his own unique style. Today, Pierre Marcolini is considered one of the world’s leading chocolatiers, and his chocolates are enjoyed by chocolate lovers around the world.
Marcolini’s chocolates are known for their complex flavours and textures, which are achieved through a meticulous process of selecting and roasting cocoa beans from specific regions around the world. He is particularly interested in single-origin chocolates, which showcase the unique flavours and characteristics of cocoa beans from specific regions.
In addition to his commitment to high-quality ingredients, Marcolini is also known for his focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing. He has worked closely with cocoa farmers in Africa and South America to develop partnerships that support fair trade practices and sustainable farming methods.
In recognition of his contributions to the world of chocolate-making, Marcolini has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, including the prestigious “Best Craftsman of Belgium” award in 1995 and the “Grand Prix International du Chocolat” award in 2007. He has also written several books about chocolate-making and has been featured in numerous magazines and television programs. Today, Pierre Marcolini has several chocolate boutiques around the world, including in Paris, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, where his artisanal chocolates and pastries are enjoyed by chocolate lovers around the world. I should also point out that he is younger than me, so this is all very current!
Who knew that a career in chocolate could be so interesting and tasty!!!