Want to journey into chocolate making? Here’s advice from 6 professionals

Chocolate is more than just a delightful treat wrapped in alluring packaging. It has a captivating allure that is both seductive and comforting, appealing to people of all ages. Those who work behind the scenes to craft these delectable confections are often viewed as enigmatic figures akin to Willy Wonka’s tribe. Manali Khandelwal, the Director of Chocolate at Subko, finds that people are fascinated by her job title and the world of chocolate-making. So, for those aspiring to pursue a career in this field, here’s how you can achieve that dream.

The Path to Becoming a Chocolate Maestro

Becoming a professional chocolatier or working with chocolate demands dedication and hard work. While getting certified from renowned institutions like Alain Ducasse’s École Ducasse in Paris is valuable, it’s not an absolute necessity. Instead, what matters most is passion, commitment, and a willingness to experiment. Working with chocolate involves understanding the entire process, from growing cacao beans to transforming them into the final delightful product.

Zeba Kohli has been a pioneer chocolatier of india and she says it is exciting to get into chocolate making. In one way you can just be a simple chocolatier by purchasing couverture or in other words cooking chocolate from the larger industrial manufacturers. These chocolates you will find in supermarkets and you can purchase them go online, study a bit of chocolate making chocolate melting from my own YouTube videos from my own Instagram and if you want to get a little more technical it’s quite exciting that today’s day and age there are a couple of chocolate courses that are available in India which was never the case before.

So that is one way to get into chocolate making. The second way which is a little more immersive and a little more intense I would say intense is by getting into the manufacturing of beans from the cocoa bean to the bar of chocolate. This is definitely a course which needs to be studied as a chocolatier initially then to enrol in chocolate tasting courses which I conduct as well then to understand the machinery that gets into converting the cocoa bean into the finished chocolate as it is consumed.

This needs a lot of investment and there has to be more than the love of chocolate or more than a passion for chocolate.  It will involve creativity , more in depth knowledge of Cacao beans and from where they are sourced, the flavours & notes by tasting & selection process of the bean as well as other ingredients . Finally the machines required for  production & conversion to chocolate . Needless to add a honing of your business skills to finally sell your products .
It involves your taste buds, creativity and imagination but it also involves a lot of knowledge of the planetary sciences, the conservation of the planets, how you can best use every single part of the cocoa bean with zero wastage and this of course is an extremely immersive experience.

The other thing is when you just want to write more research more you and teach you more about chocolate so that is the third other way that you can get involved in the chocolate industry. 

Manali Khandelwal, who transitioned from a finance job to pursue a career in patisserie, emphasizes that while certification or a degree is not essential, studying, reading, and comprehending the scientific aspects of chocolate are crucial. Chocolate is a complex substance, and understanding concepts like tempering and troubleshooting is vital. The method of learning can vary, but the act of learning itself is what matters.

Neha Joshi, Senior Director of Operations at Subko, specializes in pod-to-bar chocolate, where she advises aspiring chocolatiers to gain knowledge about cacao fruits and beans before diving into chocolate-making. Understanding and influencing the cacao bean from its initial fruit stage is where true knowledge comes into play, especially for those interested in working with organic chocolate.

The Bean-to-Bar Experience

Patricia Cosma, Co-Founder of India’s popular Cacao Festivals, believes that connecting with cacao farms is the first step to mastering chocolate-making. Hands-on experiences on cacao farms allow experimentation with different beans and learning about post-harvesting processes like fermentation and drying.

There are numerous fascinating cacao farms and processing facilities in India that one can visit. Some noteworthy examples are Karnataka’s Chempotty Estate, Varanashi Farm in Mangalore, and Kerala’s Kuruvinakunnel in Pala. Vikas Temani, founder of the artisanal chocolate brand Paul and Mike, offers farm-to-bean tours in Kochi. Devansh Ashar, Co-founder & Chief Chocolate Maker at Pascati, hosts interactive tasting experiences at their processing unit near Mumbai.


The Importance of Education

While formal certification is not obligatory, it adds value and opens doors in the chocolate industry. The Callebaut Academy in Mumbai is a well-regarded institution for chocolatiers or chefs, whereas the Cocaoshalla School in Chennai focuses on bean-to-bar chocolate-making.

Some professionals prefer to learn through hands-on experience and workshops, attending masterclasses or specialized courses. Patricia Patel, who has worked at prestigious chocolate outfits worldwide, believes travel and learning from different cacao farms have been transformative in her chocolate-making journey.

For those eager to delve deeper, reading books like “Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner” and “Professional Baking” can be valuable resources. Additionally, understanding the science of cooking through online programs, like the one on the Harvard Portal Science & Cooking, provides a more profound understanding of culinary processes.

In essence, aspiring chocolatiers should immerse themselves in the world of chocolate, understand the terroir of cacao fruit, visit farms, try out various craft chocolates, and never stop learning. Starting from scratch, just like the cacao bean, is the first step towards creating that magical bar of chocolatey goodness

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