+ Are you or this website affiliated with any organization?
I am not. I am an independent researcher and chocolate educator, learning and teaching since 2008. I have a passion for science, knowledge, and chocolate, and combine these together to offer you an honest look into the world of chocolate. I have nothing against many chocolate or cocoa related organizations, but I'm not working with them.
As well, the website is not affiliated with any organization, business, or person other than myself. I am grateful for the hard work others have done that allow me to put this site together, and you can find links to some of that in the resources or blog sections.
+ What is the purpose of this website?
To heighten your satisfaction and guide you toward quality chocolate and people within the industry.
Many talented and skilful chocolate makers and chocolatiers are overlooked due to the fact that their energy is focused on quality, transparency, and fairness to those in the industry. Putting your trust in labels, marketing, and certifications often directs you away from those who care more about the integrity of chocolate than their image or bank accounts.
The truth is, once you understand quality, and have the tools necessary, you'll begin to enjoy chocolate more than you've ever expected. You'll be more satisfied with your choices, and your choices will encourage skillful and honest craftsmanship.
+ What are your qualifications?
You can read more about me here. I'm a trained chocolatier and have worked as a chocolatier and chocolate sommelier for 10 years. There really isn't any body that governs credentials for a chocolate sommelier at this point. Currently anyone who trains others to be chocolate sommeliers or connoisseurs are self taught themselves. Those who stay on top of current research and educate others through facts and experience are the most qualified.
I pride myself on transparency, and believe in the idea of sharing knowledge not for profit, but for encouraging growth and development. Although I do charge for my workshops, there is a great deal of information and resources on my site for you to learn on your own if you so desire.
+ Does being a Chocolatier conflict with being a Chocolate Sommelier?
Yes. It does.
You may ask "How can you talk in your workshops about quality and dark chocolate, and later make sweet confections and colourful bon bons?"
For one, I'm not a purist. I understand the degrees of quality within chocolate, and although my values lean closer towards the purist, I'm also a realist. I don't believe it's somehow beneath me or hypocritical to enjoy chocolate others might consider lower quality. It's still food, and it still serves a purpose. To consider it garbage is to consider the work of the people who helped make it worthless, and their work in vain.
I have the utmost appreciation for a higher percentage, dark chocolate bar made from quality beans, processed by a skilled chocolate maker, and contains an array of distinct, clear, and harmonious aromas. To me, there is no chocolate more wonderful and worth seeking.
I also crave the world of craftsmanship. Since I was a child I worked with clay, wax, and wood to create all sorts of creatures. Chocolate is my medium to quench that desire in me. As well, my work as a chocolatier is often framed within my place of employment, and the expectations they have of the chocolate they wish to sell. Some I've worked for prefer the "purist" route, while others prefer the showy bright cute confections most people still seek.
Perhaps one day I can have my own shop, and frame my creations within my expectations instead. However, I've learned that working within a conflict of ideas is what allows me to come closer to what satisfies me.
+ Why do your workshops focus only on dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate (containing cocoa bean and low amounts of sugar) allows you to appreciate the aromas that exist within the chocolate which originate from the cocoa bean and how it was processed. This is an area that most people either never experience, or don't have the tools necessary to experience it.
Adding other ingredients such as milk, vanilla, or nuts, would distract from the purpose of many fine chocolate tastings. This is similar to drinking espresso to appreciate the coffee beans, or a spirit served neat. It allows you to taste the complex flavours without being distracted by additional ingredients.
Now that's not to say milk chocolate or other chocolate is somehow beneath dark chocolate. You can have a milk chocolate tasting as well. However, my tastings often focus on appreciating your chocolate "neat." If you want to fully understand chocolate, you need to start with the fundamentals, the basics, and go from there, and dark chocolate allows you to do that.
An artist learns to draw and shade before they paint, a musician learns chords and scales before playing a song, and in order to move forward with chocolate, you first need to learn how to taste dark chocolate!
+ Who are the workshops intended for?
Everyone. This is a chocolate connoisseur workshop for anyone who wants to delve deeper into chocolate, or just understand it at a deeper level.
It's also for those who want to be more confident in their choices, and be able to discern quality based on scientific studies and within current industry standards.
Although I developed these workshops to increase the level of knowledge for the consumer, the truth is, the level of information here on chocolate is often not found at most culinary institutions. It's a great workshop for those who want to work with chocolate, but haven't had any foundational knowledge from which to grow.