Becoming a chocolatier is a career that people can be proud of. In fact, some consider it the best job in the world, that even astronauts couldn’t possibly top that.
After all, what could be better than creating masterpieces out of luscious, mouthwatering chocolate?
Some chocolate professionals are called chocolatiers, but not all of them are. These people are considered to be so lucky to live the sweet life – both literally and figuratively.
In this article, you will learn what it takes to be a chocolatier and discover the chocolate-filled journeys they had to go on to be where they are today.
Who is a Chocolatier?
A chocolatier is essentially a chef whose specialties lie in the usage and manipulation of chocolates. Whether certified with a chef’s diploma or not, these professionals gain attention from both consumers and critics because of their elaborate crafts and delicious candies on display in their own shop or in another establishment.
Chocolatiers don’t only stick to pure, mouth-watering chocolates, though. They also make certain types of confections, like chocolate-covered nuts and fruits, as well as truffles (a bite-sized treat with a chocolate ganache center and coated with cocoa powder, chocolate, or chopped toasted nuts).
Because of what they produce, professional chocolatiers need to achieve a certain level of artistic sensibility as well as technical expertise in using chocolates and other ingredients to mold confections into appetizing shapes. Those who decide to run their own chocolate companies also need to be business-savvy and have the necessary aptitude to promote their products well.
How to Become a Chocolatier: 5 Tips
Jobs where people work with chocolate are much easier to find than the “one true love” worthy of getting a heart-shaped collection of sweets from you on Valentine’s Day. In fact, a TalentNeuron data and insights tool revealed that nearly 67,000 chocolate-related jobs were posted in 2016 alone.
Once you’ve decided to take on this journey, you should also learn all about the different paths to take and decisions to make in order to become a professional chocolate maker, as listed below:
1. Learn all about the profession
Besides sounding like the most amazing occupation in the world, being a chocolatier means more to those with the passion and skills for the job. If you’re one of these people, you should at least know the difference between chocolatiers and chocolate makers.
Although used interchangeably, these two professions are not the same.
Essentially, chocolate makers are people who create chocolate from scratch and work during the initial stages of the process called “from bean to bar.”
Meanwhile, chocolatiers are responsible for experimenting with chocolate and combining it with other ingredients to produce fancy creations like bonbons, ganache, and truffles.
Depending on the level of skill a chocolatier has, his duties may include:
- Examination of production schedules to ensure the correct amount of chocolates produced and delivered to customers
- Chocolate product preparation
- Kitchen and equipment maintenance
- Monitoring of correct temperature and condition of operating tools and equipment used to create chocolate products
- Testing and discovery of new ingredients for new chocolate creations
- Molding, tempering, and designing of chocolate
- Quality inspection of finished products
2. Get certified and learn basic skills
One of the most crucial steps in starting a career as a chocolatier is to get certified. As mentioned earlier, diplomas and even degrees in the culinary arts are not mandatory for professional chocolatiers. However, undergoing formal training does present certain advantages in the career.
For example, an associate degree in baking and pastry can teach you the basics of preparing confections, desserts, pastries, and bread, including cutting, blending, and creaming skills. It also includes coursework in culinary mathematics, nutrition, food safety, ingredients, and baking techniques and equipment.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be an extensive course. Chocolate-making classes should be able to provide you with sufficient knowledge to do well in the industry.
3. Hone soft skills and aptitudes
Aside from know-how and technical skills, you also need to hone soft skills and aptitudes to succeed in the business.
- Creative thinking – Like other artists, chocolatiers also rely heavily on their creativity in creating masterpieces made from different types of chocolate. They use this to combine elements and ingredients to achieve an aesthetically pleasing product that tastes great.
- Patience – While it may be a “sweet” job, working with chocolate still presents challenges that require extensive patience. For instance, a slight change in temperature during the tempering of chocolate can alter its consistency, so chocolatiers need a lot of patience to wait until it is truly done.
- Time management – Like other chefs, chocolatiers also need to juggle several orders at a time. Missing a client’s order can sometimes be equivalent to career suicide, so chocolatiers must be able to manage their time well and prioritize accordingly.
- Keen eye for detail – Aside from creativity, chocolatiers also need a keen eye for detail to perfect their creations.
- Taste for adventure – Experimentation is not uncommon in the chocolate business as it is during these adventurous moments that a new favorite version of your comfort food is born.
- Grace under pressure – There are plenty of things that could go wrong in a chocolatier’s kitchen, so he must be able to handle the pressure with poise and grace. Losing cool in these stressful situations might ruin what could’ve been a chocolatey masterpiece.
- Marketing savvy – As mentioned earlier, some chocolatiers choose to establish their own chocolate business. If this is the path you plan to take, you must also have the marketing knowledge to promote not just your creations but your talent as a chocolatier as well.
4. Become an apprentice
This is arguably the most crucial step you must take to get your foot in the door of the chocolate industry. Finding a master chocolatier who is willing to make you their apprentice is necessary because you will be learning the ropes of the business and techniques that only experts know from them, all while developing your own techniques in making unique and delicious creations.
To succeed in getting an apprenticeship, you must practice frequently in perfecting your craft. Never settle for merely writing down your accomplishments, as a master chocolatier will want to see you in action.
Of course, building a portfolio won’t hurt. If some of your creations work well, take pictures and post them online. Tag the company or chocolatier you hope to apprentice with to pique their interest in what you can do.
Ready to Become a Chocolatier?
Becoming a chocolatier is a career that is as fulfilling as it is sweet. Along with your passion and determination, use this article as a guide to getting started on this chocolate-filled culinary journey.
Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.