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Adventures in Starting a Chocolate Business

Chocolate

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#91 ibjack

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 10:46 PM

Here's another question that I had. If you could only buy either a guitar cutter or a small tempering machine, like the chocvision delta, what would you buy 1st? Thanks to schneich for posting the pictures. (I'm trying to find a US distributor of the Selmi machines)

#92 Lior

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 11:36 PM

Thank you for the pictures! It was really nice to see and read the explanations. Very kind of you and greatly appreciated by me!

#93 schneich

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:44 AM

Here's another question that I had.  If you could only buy either a guitar cutter or a small tempering machine, like the chocvision delta, what would you buy 1st?  Thanks to schneich for posting the pictures. (I'm trying to find a US distributor of the Selmi machines)

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hmm....

actually i couldnt do without both... last year we made some chocolates by hand, and if you want to do enrobed chocolate you got to have an enrober, otherwise in my eyes it would be to expensive (we already charge 75 euros per kg) if you compare the two methods of chocolate production (molded and enrobed) time costing wise the molded method is a lot faster if you do it by hand (manual tempering) and if you got an enrober enrobed is a lot faster (i usually cut 200 centers from one frame, enrobing of one frame usually takes 25 minutes or so so if you work alone you should be able to pump out 4-5000 chocolates in a days work, in our case (about 10g per piece) that would be 3750 euros worth of chocolate. cutting with a guitar is much easier than i expected, it just can get a pain in the XXX if your ganache is too soft ( i rather like to keep it on the soft side) i paid for my used guitar cutter including 4 attchments 350 euros, since they are produced here in germany (dedy is only 50 km away from here in essen) you can find one from time to time on ebay or so. if i find another one cheaply i could manage to send it over to the US if you care ;-)



cheers

t.

Edited by schneich, 09 January 2008 - 02:46 AM.

toertchen toertchen
patissier chocolatier cafe
cologne, germany

#94 John DePaula

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 04:12 AM

hi,

finally i had a chance to shoot some pictures inbetween production, so dont you wonder about the chaos ;-)
...
Posted Image

enrobed pieces, no feet ;-)
...

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Beautiful work; Impressive!
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#95 Kerry Beal

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 05:15 AM

I WANT A CHOCOLATE LAB!!!

Thanks for showing us. Dedicated space is such a beautiful thing.

I was admiring that same temperer and enrober at Tomric last year. Do you use the heads for filling molds too? Are you considering the truffle attachment at all?

#96 schneich

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 08:56 AM

I WANT A CHOCOLATE LAB!!!

Thanks for showing us.  Dedicated space is such a beautiful thing. 

I was admiring that same temperer and enrober at Tomric last year. Do you use the heads for filling molds too?  Are you considering the truffle attachment at all?

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iam considering the heads, but probably wont go for the truffle thingie, they just released a very cool coater called "comfit" ive ssen it work and its really marevlous...


cheers

t.
toertchen toertchen
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cologne, germany

#97 ibjack

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 09:20 AM

I WANT A CHOCOLATE LAB!!!

Thanks for showing us.  Dedicated space is such a beautiful thing. 

I was admiring that same temperer and enrober at Tomric last year. Do you use the heads for filling molds too?  Are you considering the truffle attachment at all?

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Kerry, does Tomric sell the Selmi machines? I checked their website but didn't find what I was looking for. I emailed them but I think they are still on vacation.

#98 Kerry Beal

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 10:46 AM

I WANT A CHOCOLATE LAB!!!

Thanks for showing us.  Dedicated space is such a beautiful thing. 

I was admiring that same temperer and enrober at Tomric last year. Do you use the heads for filling molds too?   Are you considering the truffle attachment at all?

View Post


Kerry, does Tomric sell the Selmi machines? I checked their website but didn't find what I was looking for. I emailed them but I think they are still on vacation.

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I think they are at some sort of pastry show. I spoke with Brian the other day. Same machine, but may have a different name on it.

#99 Desiderio

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 06:39 PM

Thank you so much for finding the time to take pics and describe your production!!!
It put things to prospect.I really love those selmi's ,I have asked an italian friend chocolatier and he is using them as well and love them .
Vanessa

#100 Lior

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 11:44 PM

My little business has opened a few months ago. Here is a few pics of my "lab"- sorry it is such a mess- been a very busy two weeks. Posted Image

Posted Image

#101 Desiderio

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 04:33 PM

I didnt know you were open for business yet, Congratulations!
Has been a difficult process ?Any suggestion for someone that is trying to start now?Kitchen is an issue here and I cant afford my own lab at least I dont think so :-P
Vanessa

#102 Lior

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 11:18 PM

Hi! Well it has been fun but difficult. I was desperate to leave my teaching job of 21 years for most of those years! Eventually I took a leave of absence this year and just"jumped" into the sea. I have had many sleepless nights- is it the right move? WIll it work? WIll it affect the family's general standard of living? Etc. But I felt I would regret it at a later age - that is if I chickened out and didn't give it a try. The "lab" is in our basement/bomb shelter of about 20sq meters which is small. But it is enough. I did not want to take the leap of renting a real place yet. I had 4 stainless steel tables made- which was not very expensive. So now we have to be patient and slowly hope the business will build itself. I don't want it to be big, just nice and small and bring in a salary to replace my measly teacher's one-which here is extremely low. That would make me satisfied. If you want to you should try it too!! We only have one short chance at this life!!

#103 Kerry Beal

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 07:17 AM

Hi! Well it has been fun but difficult. I was desperate to leave my teaching job of 21 years for most of those years! Eventually I took a leave of absence this year and just"jumped" into the sea.  I have had many sleepless nights- is it the right move? WIll it work? WIll it affect the family's general standard of living? Etc. But I felt I would regret it at a later age - that is if I chickened out and didn't give it a try. The "lab" is in our basement/bomb shelter of about 20sq meters which is small. But it is enough. I did not want to take the leap of renting a real place yet.  I had 4 stainless steel tables made- which was not very expensive. So now we have to be patient and slowly hope the business will build itself. I don't want it to be big, just nice and small and bring in a salary to replace my measly teacher's one-which here is extremely low. That would make me satisfied. If you want to you should try it too!! We only have one short chance at this life!!

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What sort of health department rules regulate your business. ie are you legal in your basement/bomb shelter?

#104 Lior

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 03:47 AM

Well that is a problem as the regulations are crazy. I need 150sq meters, 7 sinks, fire regulations, a storage room a room for the staff to eat (!) etc. So as this is not feasible right now. I guess I am illegal!! Most of the chocolatiers here are in the same situation and the health dept just ignores it as they don't even have enough budget or manpower to do what they should in bigger operations. There is no legal option for a really small producer as the laws are old, from pre 1948! I am conscientous of what I can be-health wise and all. What do you all do? DOes everyone have health licenses? Some chocolatiers here have but very few.
And thanks for the pig mold search!!!!!! :biggrin:

#105 Desiderio

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 06:14 AM

I guess here in the USA it isnt as complicated .I come form Italy and there is a little bit challenging ( I dont think I would get my hand in it there anymore ).Here I feel its doable and with a really few investments expecially at the beginning , if you rent a commercial kitchen , this is what I am planning to do and I know many other chocolatier here do the same, its a good start and it spares you the intial expenses of a lab .
Vanessa

#106 Lior

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 06:59 AM

yes, that would be ideal. I thought to establish a bit of a clientele, see if it works and then look for renting a professional place. Everything here is complicated! Probably like in Italy! In the states everytihng is so well greased and no place for nonsense.

#107 Desiderio

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:34 PM

Well , tomorrow I have another meeting with a guy that owns a business and actually rent his commercial kitchen.Hopefully I am lucky this time :blink: .
I have aquestion for all the business owner out there , that feels like answer anyway :-P,when you sell to other stores as consigment ( not sure its spelled right )in practical is when you put your products out for sell in someone else store and they collect the sale taxes and give you a % of the profit.I have only asked one business so far and she get the 45% of your gross sale and pays on a monthly bases,she collects the sale taxes and you are responsible to keep your space stock etc.
Do you have similar experience ?
thank you
Vanessa

#108 Beth Wilson

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:44 PM

Here in Canada our labeling rules are all changing. I am just looking into all of the regulations but so far I have discovered if you want to wholesale your chocolates to anyone then you have to provide nutritional information on the products.

The catch is the product has to be submitted to independent labs for testing. I have been told this can mean a cost of $500 + per product. If you are looking to place your chocolates in other stores do you have similar rules?

I am ok just selling in my little store for now but who knows what will change next!

#109 Desiderio

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:27 PM

The problem is that I dont have a store so for now will be online and wholesale.
The rule here I believe is that if you dont produce more than 10,000 units per year u dont need nutritional info on the label,only ingredients.All the small local products I have seen here dont have the nutrional facts on the label.
The testing its expensive here as well,its one of those things you probably can go around somehow.

Edited by Desiderio, 13 January 2008 - 07:29 PM.

Vanessa

#110 mrose

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:47 PM

Well , tomorrow I have another meeting with a guy that owns a business and actually rent his commercial kitchen.Hopefully I am lucky this time :blink: .
I have aquestion for all the business owner out there , that feels like answer anyway :-P,when you sell to other stores as consigment ( not sure its spelled right )in practical is when you put your products out for sell in someone else store and they collect the sale taxes and give you a % of the profit.I have only asked one business so far and she get the 45% of your gross sale and pays on a monthly bases,she collects the sale taxes and you are responsible to keep your space stock etc.
Do you have similar experience ?
thank you

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You have to work the best deal you can get. The stocking & payment time schedule is reasonable. Selling on consignment, you are taking all the risky. If it doesn't sell in the lifespan of the chocolates, you are shouldering all financial responsibility. For me, 45% seems a bit steep since she is actually only renting you shelf space. Also, she is probably making more profit on the chocolates than you are. That's why I rarely do this anymore, at anymore than ~33%. The other consideration; if you are an unknown chocolatier, is not making much profit worth the exposure you get.

Another avenue to get your name out is looking into a BNI group in your area. It is a significant outlay upfront but you have sort of extended salesforce. I have done this & I can sell enough to BNI members & referrals to cover the yearly cost.

Also look into talking to some of the groups in your area such as the Red Hat ladies, or American Business Women. They are usually want people to come speak at their meeting. I have done this several and it is an enjoyable experince. I have talked about the history of chocolate, discussed how I got into the business or how I develop flavors. You will should give out samples (everyone loves chocolate & it will help with sales). I always state upfront that one of the conditions is that I am allowed to bring chocolates to sell. It is not a big money maker (you will make at least enough to cover the cost of samples) but a fun time. The women who I have talked to have had a goodtime & so have I. You usually will be offered to eat with them. I was called to see if I would talk to ones of these groups again this year. They were excited that I would come again. Also when you go these types of groups be aware of their economics (?). A good part of these women live on a limited income so bring the smaller lower priced boxes. I have sold a significant amount at these meeting at barely over cost.
Mark
www.roseconfections.com

#111 Pam R

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 08:45 PM

The catch is the product has to be submitted to independent labs for testing.  I have been told this can mean a cost of $500 + per product.  If you are looking to place your chocolates in other stores do you have similar rules?

I don't know where you live, but search for a government product development program. I was researching this last summer and don't have the information handy, but I know there is funding available for small business -- and I believe I was quoted around $100 per product for testing.


eta: my post about some of my findings re: recipe testing/labelling

#112 SugarGirl

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 10:45 PM

I just thought that I'd add my voice to this thread because I started a small chocolate business in LA about a month ago. It's called <a target="_blank" href="http://www.bonbonbar...">BonBonBar</a>, and I specialize in candy bars and marshmallows that are handmade with organic and local ingredients whenever possible. I'm working out of a rented commercial kitchen, and doing mail order and wholesale. I'd love to have my own store one day, with lots of varieties of candy bars! :)

If anyone has any advice about PR -- especially about getting the word out in the local area -- I'd love to hear it. I want to build a local customer base, especially for gift baskets and party favors. I've been giving out samples whenever I can (usually of extra products) -- to publications that I email first, and to friends and their companies. And I've been getting a nice amount of sales directed from my food blog that I've written for a couple years. I also just started Google Adwords, but I'm getting clicks without purchases.

Also any wholesale tips would be great. I've encountered stores that double the wholesale price ... and those who do 30% markup (which is what I based my wholesale price on)... I decided not to sell to the double wholesale price stores because double my wholesale price would have resulted in too high of a price for customers... and I didn't want to lower my price.

I'm also wondering about out of town wholesale -- I would pay for shipping, right (ie it's included in my wholesale price)? If so, it seems like it would cost me more to be carried in a store in a diff't city than in my own city (where I can deliver it myself for not as much in gas costs)?

#113 gfron1

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 07:22 AM

I would check out the topic on The Sweet Life Bakery. They did grass roots growth and after about a year they had a space. They did a great job of chronicalling their efforts.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#114 Pam R

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 09:14 AM

I'm also wondering about out of town wholesale -- I would pay for shipping, right (ie it's included in my wholesale price)?  If so, it seems like it would cost me more to be carried in a store in a diff't city than in my own city (where I can deliver it myself for not as much in gas costs)?

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I don't think you have to pay for shipping. I supposed it depends where you are shipping to and from, but I have a food store and I have to pay for shipping on everything I bring in -- and I bring in about 99% of what I sell.

#115 schneich

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 02:00 PM

in germany its the same thing (regulationwise) everything is standardized down to the floor tiles (they have to have a certain amount of water displacement)

but

on top of that you cant "simply" open your own shop and produce chocolates. you HAVE to be a "konditormeister" which is roughly the same degree as a cordon bleu "grand diplome". if you open anyway in the end they will close down your shop by the police :-( thats germany...


cheers


t.

Edited by schneich, 17 January 2008 - 02:01 PM.

toertchen toertchen
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cologne, germany

#116 ejw50

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 05:39 PM

thanks again schneich!

#117 schneich

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 04:18 AM


Printing Chocolate Transfer Sheets


in the last few weeks iam fooling around with the decoration of my chocolates. i still have to learn a lot to get things out as nicely as christopher elbow or chris norman for example. at the moment we order our transfer sheets from pcb, but i really have to say that the number of "cool" designs is very limited. most of the designs look very old fashioned or too whimsical to me. designwise i want to go more in the direction of the next generation of spanish pastry chefs like morato, torreblanca et cetera. i did some designs with the airbrush (or fingers, or brush) on blank chocolate transfer film . but i really find it very time consuming, and iam not satisfied with the results. i would for example like to use a flame tribal for a chili, or a skull for a pate reglisse chocolate. i looked around for quite some time now and finally i found a manufacturer in belgium that prints sheets in 60 x 40 cm. the onla thing is that if you order minimum possible (140 sheets) its still too expensive. once you order like 1000 or more things start to get really cheap. so if more people would agree on a number of designs we could make a centralised order which would still be pretty profitable even if we would add the shipment costs (5 kg ---) USA 32 euros)

for now its just an idea...

i add some pictures of some things i like...

chocolate bar nyc

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

the thing i wonder about most is that nobody does a selection of simple flat colors, they could be used for so many things, also simple gold and silver would be nice. i tried to do it with brush and airbrush, but it needs too much luster dust to get a really nice cover..

i think it would make sense to split every 60 x 40 cm transfer into

4 (30 x 20 cm) or even
6 (20 x 20 cm) slots.

1 to 4 colors is possible so we would have to agree on up to 4 colors that everyone likes...



cheers

torsten s.

Edited by schneich, 19 January 2008 - 05:49 AM.

toertchen toertchen
patissier chocolatier cafe
cologne, germany

#118 Chris Hennes

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 07:29 AM

Posted Image

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I love the presentation - your chocolates are gorgeous.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org


#119 schneich

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 07:58 AM

no, sorry these are not my chocolates, i only took the photos ;-)

cheers

t.
toertchen toertchen
patissier chocolatier cafe
cologne, germany

#120 mrose

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 10:01 AM

no, sorry these are not my chocolates, i only took the photos ;-)

cheers

t.

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What are the cost of the sheets? Can the sheets yoy buy be cut to other dimensions? $35 added to the cost could get the overall cost a bit pricey.
Mark
www.roseconfections.com





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