In 1847, Joseph Fry and his son invented the first chocolate bar by pressing cocoa powder and sugar into the shape of a bar. Since then, Fry and Cadbury ushered in the era of chocolate confectionery.
Even before its invention, the Mayans and Aztecs already knew how important chocolate was. In fact, they were the ones who used cacao beans during divine rituals, believing that it has magical properties. This is probably how chocolate got its Latin name Theobroma cacao – which literally means “food of the gods.”
If you have as big a sweet tooth as the Mayans and Aztecs, then the idea of working with and around chocolate all day may sound like a tasteful career. As a chocolatier, you will create beautiful and delicious chocolate treats. Running a thriving chocolate shop or chocolate-making business is only an added bonus.
Looking for a way to make a living out of your love for chocolate? This article will show you what a chocolatier can do and how you can become one.
What is a Chocolatier?
A chocolatier is a professional who makes candies and crafts intricate displays of chocolate-based treats. He can make many kinds of confections, ranging from chocolate covered fruits and truffles to chocolate bouquets.
Some qualities a chocolatier must have are creativity and technical expertise in blending chocolates with other ingredients. They also need to know how to mold the confection into elaborate designs. However, they have a unique role than the chocolate makers who manufacture chocolate in a process called “from bean to bar.”
How to Become a Chocolatier: 7 Tips
Planning to tread the path of a chocolatier requires knowledge on how it’s done. From studying how to work on chocolate to taking theories into practice, here are seven tips you can use to become a professional chocolatier:
1. Take a course
When making a career out of your passion for chocolates, getting formal training from a cooking school actually makes sense. You see, the art of making chocolates is a specialization under the culinary arts.
While formal education is often not required for aspiring chocolatiers, you can enjoy several perks when you decide to undergo formal education in the field. For one, a degree in baking arts and pastries can give you knowhow when it comes to working with different types of ingredients—chocolates included. As a chocolatier student, you’ll also get the chance to get some hands-on training with a master chocolatier.
In general, certificates offer a quicker and more affordable qualification in the industry. However, diplomas can prove beneficial in allowing for more devoted hours in formal training.
2. Observe a master chocolatier
Whether you choose to get formal training to become a chocolatier, you must still make sure that you get a chance to observe a master of the craft in action. Seek out a tour of a local chocolate shop or ask to volunteer to help in their kitchen for a day.
This way, you can see and experience the art of chocolate crafting and decide whether it’s something you will never get tired of doing in the long run. Asking the chocolatier or the shop’s staff a couple of questions—like the skills necessary for the job and what they like most about it—can also help you make an informed decision.
3. Learn the process of making chocolates
Regardless of whether you decide to take a chocolate-making course, you must still learn about the processes on how to actually do it. After all, this will be your bread-and-butter when treading this career path.
Among the technical skills you would need to learn are:
- Candy production
You’ll also need to have general culinary knowledge, like measurements and conversions, food safety, nutrition, and the use of baking equipment.
4. Know and gain the necessary soft skills
Aside from the technical skills mentioned above, you also need several soft skills to succeed not only in your chocolatier training but also in entering the chocolate business. To become a chocolatier, passion can only get you so far. You need to have the following characteristics and aptitudes as well:
- Attention to detail
- Creative thinking skills
- Time management skills
- Marketing skills
- The ability to handle the pressure well
5. Expand your network in the industry
A network can help give you a career boost, and the chocolate industry is no exception.
Attend chocolate-related events in your locality, including cooking classes and chocolate-making competitions, among others. These events make a great avenue for network expansion. Once there, speak to people whom you think have the same passion you have.
Of course, physical events aren’t your only option. You can also join social media groups dedicated to chocolates. Be friendly and open; you may never know when someone out there can offer you the help you need to get an apprenticeship or even a job in the industry.
6. Start applying for entry-level jobs
There’s no better way to get your foot in the door in the chocolate industry than by landing your first job. Look for an opening at local bakeries, chocolate shops, restaurants, or confectioneries and apply for them.
Seek a job where you can gain both general soft skills and the technical skills needed to step up the ladder. Who knows? Maybe you can also get promoted into a position more relevant to your passion.
Plus, going out there can help you find a mentor—a master chocolatier—to take you under his wing and help you become a successful chocolatier.
7. Show what you can do
To enter the industry, you don’t just need a good set of credentials written on paper – you must also show people what you can do.
Practice perfecting your craft. Once you deem yourself good enough, expose yourself to experts at an event or a job where a master chocolatier can witness your skills. This way, you should be able to get a head start on your future career as a chocolatier.
As you jump from one job to another, try to build an impressive portfolio that can attract businesses into hiring you. Test your creations with consumers, listen to their feedback, and adjust accordingly.
A passion for chocolate combined with dedication, patience, and know-how can get you a long way in the culinary arts. Boost your chances of reaching your dream of becoming a master chocolatier and enjoy sweet success using this article as a guide.
Shanaaz Raja, Director of Courses, International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.