My top 3: FPS (Jacquy Pfeiffer) in Chicago, The Chocolate Loft (Drew Shotts) in NYC, Ewald Notter's school in Gaithersburg, MD.
I would look, in particular, for any classes taught by Norman Love. His generosity and passion for chocolate runs deep, and he can be just plain exciting to be around. Though you might make some cheesy showpieces (the techniques used, admittedly, are the basic building blocks of more complex artistic showpieces), his coverage of ganaches, candies, and garnishes can be very useful.
As for PCB, the website is useful as an introduction, but you don't really get a sense for their products until you have a catalog in your hands. Try to navigate your way to the catalog request form. It's free. They release a new one twice a year, in the spring and fall. I think they now even publish an English edition. There is a lot to sift through, but you'll find the cocoa butters, tons of chablons, the very cool textured acetates, and though I don't really use transfer sheets, their designs are the most inventive out there. Several MOFs, and even Jacquy Pfeifer and Sebastien Canone, consult on new products for them. However conservative this group may be, they are forcing a lot of the other companies to play catch-up.
I'm not sure how much distribution they have in the US now, but European Imports in Chicago carries the cocoa butters, some of the transfer sheets, guitar sheets, and edible lustre dusts- last time I checked.
PVC... do you mean the plastic tubing- Poly(vinyl chloride)- used in plumbing? Or do you mean acetate, or plastic sheeting? PVC, available at hardware stores, comes in a multitude of sizes and is easily cut down into molds. The acetate products I use most are 2 to 2 1/2" wide rolls (firm, yet easy to manipulate) and the PCB guitar sheets I mentioned above, which I use for many purposes, not just chocolate work. I don't know what might be available in art supply stores, but as always, make sure what you are using is food-safe.
Cold spray, keyboard cleaner, chewing gum remover... it's all the same... well, yes and no. There are some that are safe to ingest and others that contain chemicals you wouldn't want to. The spray is used in assembling and affixing chocolate showpieces. Steve is no doubt the authority on this.
Edited by Michael Laiskonis, 23 February 2003 - 01:49 PM.