Coming from science I do not find it very difficult to understand the science behind chocolate tempering, ganache emulsions, caramelization or Maillard reactions. Yet the practical work with those things is another story. I had to start as a full beginner.
One of the earlier things I did about a year ago was indeed to do a two-day beginner course at a “Chocolate Academy”. Sounds funny if you come from academic research, but that’s certainly not their main clientele anyway. Those “academies” are training centers run by Barry Callebaut, currently the world’s biggest chocolate producer1. My first course was in the Netherlands (Zundert, with Ton Jongejan) and was quite helpful to learn the very basics, such as chocolate tempering, enrobing, moulding etc2. By the way, the reason for Barry Callebaut to host and advertise their chocoalte academies is certainly not only driven by a desire to foster artisan chocolate work, but clearly also serves as a platform to advertise their own product line.
Anyway3, after trying around a lot by myself, I now felt it was more than time to do another step and consequently attended a “beyond the basics” course in another chocolate academy, this time at Callebaut’s main site in Belgium4 . The course was held by David Maenhout, a well-known Belgian chocolatier. In comparison to the beginner course in Zundert, this time it was very international5 and the focus was much more on flavors and fillings than on basic techniques.
As with my first course I was rather satisfied. Of course in those settings one cannot expect that the course perfectly matches the own preferences. Yet for a two-day thing it was quite packed with new impressions, knowledge, and experience… and I now have hundreds of chocolates to give away or eat myself.
Now you know I had a nice and taste chocolate course. I added a second post on the technical details of what we worked on in the course.
Delicious and beautiful safran-orange chocolates.
- Callebaut and Cacao Barry already were two major players in the chocolate business. They fused in 1996 to form Barry Callebaut and continued to buy numerous other companies. Meanwhile it is the world biggest producer of chocolate. They not only deliver a large fraction of the world’s patisseries and chocolatiers, but also work with huge enterprises as Néstlé and Kraft. [↩]
- Thanks again, Ton. That was a nice fun course… [↩]
- I mean, the courses seem quite good and even prices are OK compared to many other renowned insitutions such as Valrhona or the american Culinary Institue. So I would say it’s a good learning place, but use it more for learning techniques than to see what specific type of chocolate to use (because they will -of course- only be using Barry Callebaut). [↩]
- Callebaut’s main site is in a small town called Wieze, but that’s so small that nobody will know it, or have to know it… Actually, it’s rather a huge chocolate factory with a small village around it. [↩]
- The other attendants came from Italia, Morocco, Serbia, Slovakia, USA, Belgium, and Guatemala. [↩]