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ChocoMom

Chocolate Workshop Rebuild- suggestions

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Hi to all you wonderful chocolate geniuses!!!! 

 

As some of you already know, my entire home and chocolate workshop burned to the ground on February 14th and 15th.  It took 5 fire departments, 45 firefighters working for 11 hours straight to get it under control. They had to return 4 different times on the 15th, thus it took nearly 24 hours to end it. (We got out with the clothes on our back, plus the kitty and the dog.)  This was a massive fire that we believe started in the basement area of the original house- though we have no idea exactly where it started or what caused it.  The addition to the house was primarily for my chocolate workshop.   My parents, before they died, had set aside the money for me to build the shop onto my house. According to the fire chief, NOTHING can be salvaged- not even the Cambria countertops. =(   

 

We were given the "green light" to start excavation this weekend, and put in supports for the foundation walls. They hydrostatic pressure our area experiences in the spring is impressive, so the walls all need to be braced. Once that's done, we can start rebuilding.  My question to all of you is: What type of countertops and appliances would be on your list to start with- if (which I pray you never are...but IF) you had to rebuild and start over?   I value your insights and advice tremendously, and believe that asking the question on this forum would yield the very best advice.  

 

Thank you all, in advance, for whatever advice you may be able to lend me. 

Andrea

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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So sorry to hear this. Thank goodness you and your family are okay! Wishing you all the best.

 

As far as new stuff... it would be great to be able to get a Selmi (or three - one for each chocolate), some marble countertops, stainless steel countertops, a robot coupe, and a FireMixer.

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Yes, the Selmi has been a dream in recent months. I do admire those beasts!!!!    But, ah, then I see my Revolation machines,melted and destroyed, sitting at the bottom of the pit. I loved those things!:(      I had looked at the Robot Coupe, and the FireMixers before...but later wondered if a ThermoMix might be a good compromise?  IDK.   And then, at the top of my wishlist (Pre-fire) was the EZTemper.  ...

 

 I have contemplated SS counters, and maybe a marble top or Quartz-resin island.    I am seriously considering built-ins in lieu of traditional cupboards and bookshelves.  I cannot think of any downsides to that, but, these are all things that I need you folks to weigh in on.  So...Selmi is on the table now. SS counters.. Keep the ideas coming!!!  

 

 


-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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I don't have any of the items I mentioned but they are in my dream chocolate space along with a cooling tunnel and a walk in cooler to store chocolates.

 

You may also want to consider a spray booth area if you airbrush colored cocoa butters.

 

Do you use a mixer for making marshmallows and nougats? I have an old KitchenAid and live it but would consider the Bosch mixer (http://pleasanthillgrain.com/bosch-mixer-universal-plus?_vsrefdom=gpshop&gclid=CLjNqJT8kcsCFQouHwodLBcJLA) if I needed a new one. I think @tikidoc has the Bosch, along with a few other eGulleters.


Edited by curls added link to Bosch mixer (log)
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There are lots of different models on these things, so this may not be the case for you, but where I work, the Thermomix is much smaller than the Robot Coupe if production size is an issue. I much prefer the Robot Coupe.

 

Lots of electrical plug outlets - and in the island bench if you can do that. We have them hanging from the ceiling as well over benches if you cant wire them through the benches. Tray racks under the benchtops. Can you build a spray booth into one corner of the room with an extraction fan and protection for over-spray? 

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thermomix is no substitute for a robot coupe, IMHO. I have a thermomix and whilst it's great, if you only need something as a food processor, I'd choose a robot coupe.

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Definitely yes on the outlets. I had at least 18 prior to the fire.   I had built a 'portable' spray booth out of plexi-glass for my old shop. I didn't have an extraction fan in there, but I placed it near the Broan fan-monster- so the overspray was dealt with effectively.  This time, I may sacrifice a corner and add in another fan. Great idea!  

Excellent idea with the tray racks under the benches. Only problem is...my kids. My two daughters used to be the worst of the worst for swiping chocolates. When our oldest son came to visit with his family, we discovered that my granddaughter won that prize. 


-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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ChocoMom - What an ordeal you have been through. So sorry to hear about it all and I am glad you and yours are safe.

 

Countertops? Probably not what you need for chocolate work, but, my personal favorite countertop material is soapstone. I am not a fan of granite - too fussy for me - but I guess most like that best for candy - with its slick surface.

 

Appliances? Well, if you can squeeze it out of the insurance dollars (since you are rebuilding so quickly I gather the insurance company is being very cooperative) .. an HR freeze-dryer - for those centers! And, of course, you will need an EZ Temper no doubt. :)  And I love my TMX - but perhaps the newer version with the better heat control would suit you better. For large batches though, I doubt it would be that handy as it is relatively small (for any kind of a commercial operation). Kerry would be able to advise you better about that though I am sure.

 

Looking forward to hearing about the rebuilding. Are you making design changes to the house (or building a completely different design)? I know if my house in NS burned down I would definitely do my best to build something with a different layout - a single storey (this one is 2 storeys) with a layout similar to the one I am trying to sell in NC.

 

Again, I am so glad you are safe. Take care of yourself and your family.


Edited by Deryn (log)
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Oooh...I had forgotten about soapstone. Nice idea!! The Cambria quartz resin  I had was a dream come true- and it had the price tag to go along with it.  I'll have to check pricing comparisons.( Im not a fan of granite either).   

 

Oh, the insurance co has been amazing! Maybe because we're also farmers ourselves...and we have Farmer's insurance?  IDK....all I know is we're moving ahead full-speed.  And, this is the best time of year to deal with this kind of disaster. Everything is in ice. 

 

We are making some changes to the design of the house, yes. It had a gambrel roof before, because the older part of the house was designed that way. Its just not a great idea when you live in a place that measures snow in feet, not inches. It had to be shoveled multiple times each winter.   So, I am lobbying for a 6-12 pitch, two story, old farmhouse style.  The foundation - both old and new is 80 feet in length, and 26 in width. We're going to bump an 18' section out another 8 feet in the back that will set on top of the root cellar, with the ventilation pipe going to the side, rather than vertical. And, dh wants to add on a sun-room at the west end for my hundreds of plants (most of which I need to re-start).  The house was built originally into a hill. So, the new garage actually created a section that because a 3 level house.  

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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I will warn you, soapstone is not cheap. But, it was my dream too - and I put soapstone counters into my NC place ... unfortunately just before I moved up here to NS where this kitchen needs them too - but out here in the wilderness I don't think I can justify that cost unless I just do an island with it.

 

I know all this must have been stressful for you and will continue to be as you make all these decisions and wait while things come to fruition, one hopes sooner than later, but at least you now have good things to look forward to - and that sunroom addition sounds like a wonderful idea!

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I'm really sorry to hear of your loss and am glad that your family (including furry creatures) are safe.  First, make sure that the electrical service to the house can support what you're thinking of.  Some of the equipment (like a Selmi) require 3-phase power.  Most residences aren't designed with this in mind.  Also consider having 20A outlets in a number of places so that you don't overload the circuits.  Simply having too many devices running at once can do this (and lead to a fire if you're not careful).  Lastly, make sure that you have enough SEPARATE electrical circuits in your workshop.  This will reduce the chances of overload and keep you more productive.

 

For the counter tops, I would suggest at least 1 marble table and others stainless steel.  You want to stay away from "soft" materials that can absorb things, and not that any of the materials mentioned are soft to our touch, you simply don't see it in commercial kitchens that I've ever been in.

 

P.S.  I love my Chocovision too but would really enjoy having a Selmi or similar machine.  It would make me so much faster.  Of course a vibrating table would be nice too, and loads of refrigerated and freezer spaces. ;-)

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Steve Lebowitz

Doer of All Things

Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

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Dear Andrea,

My heart goes out to you in your loss.  We have lived through 2 terrible house fires in our city home (we live in the country now and heaven help us if we ever have a fire because it all has to be trucked in) and it was years before we drove up our road without my heart being in my mouth.  Our insurance company was so good to us that I could scarcely believe it.

I don't have a chocolate room or special counter tops anywhere, but perhaps you can ask the Chocolate Doctor, Kerry Beal, for photos of her chocolate room.  It is wonderful and I loved working in it when friends and I took a chocolate course.  (If Kerry gives the OK, I can post you all the photos I took from that day.)

All best in the future rebuilding.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Thank you all for your kind wishes and replies!!!!  I was hoping things would let up a bit, but that was not to be. My MIL ended up in the ER Monday- with a 219 BP, and my two older kids kept quiet about smoke inhalation. DD17 ended up in the ER Monday afternoon with pain in her chest - acute bronchitis; DS18 - yesterday- with Pneumonia. Then all the cows broke loose at the farm. Thankfully, our 2000# bull complied, and led the herd back into the broken gate. We had to repair that last evening.  It could have been worse, so we're thankful that everyone is on the mend now, (I hope).

 

Honestly, I wasn't even sure that I wanted to rebuild the shop, but a good portion of the outpouring from this community has been due to the demand for the chocolates. So, here we are.   Antiques and heirlooms from my parents and grandparents were put to use in the shop.  Among the big items, lost was my Grandfather's desk and chair, which had been handed down to my Dad, then to me. The Motown CDs I can replace, but the wedding pictures, and my Mom's wedding ring...not so sure about. I had antique scales, wooden Springerle rolling pins from "the old country", etc.  So much of it was inspirational, and reminded me of the joy I had working with my Grandma, and eating chocolate with Daddy.  It will take some 'internal digging' to find the joy I once had in making chocolates. I hope that joy will re-surface in due time.   

 

I had run into the fire chief again, sometime after posting on another thread, and he had corrected his previous stats with regards to the fire.  They had two tanker trucks from different fire departments that ran continuously through Sunday night getting water, dumping it into the pump-ponds, over and over and over.  And then, I thought the fire had only restarted twice on Monday, but it was four times.  I cannot possibly fathom what would have been left to burn, causing it to restart so many times! He did tell me that nothing could be salvaged from the shop. With the floors burning out first, everything else (like the appliances) caved and fell inwards to the burning pit that used to be our basement.  

 

As for appliances, the refrigerator I had was an enormous, beautiful, commercial beast with a glass door.  The stove, Broan fan, dishwasher, A/C, dehumidifier, air compressor, paint sprayer, etc... all gone too.  I had 17 or 18 recessed eyeball lights with the silicone coated bulbs, as required by the inspector.   All the wiring was done specifically to support the appliances and machines, so we wouldn't have any electrical issues. The electrical inspector was made aware of all the necessities, and gave us the A-okay.  My oldest son is a building inspector, so he is working with us now, too. I have so much to do in advance, so that we don't end up with electrical issues. So, I am most grateful for the reminders about that, Steve. 

 

Based on your recommendations thus far, I am forming in my head an idea with mostly SS countertops, and an island with a stone surface. Marble, Quartz, Soapstone...IDK, but one of those.  I still like the recessed eyeball lights, unless any of you have other suggestions that are better. Wish I could find LEDs that would work there but they either have to have covers over them, or be made with the shatterproof coating. I thought about using shower lights, that have the shield over them, too.  (My history of migraines precludes me from using fluorescent lights.)

 

I would love to see pics of Kerry Beal's workshop!!! I am sure it is far more functional than I could come up with. (We are going with a more simple house design, and will bump an additional space out in the back of the house to accommodate an increased shop size.  So...that will be a bonus.)  

 

Thank you all so much for your help, advice, and suggestions!   It is most appreciated, and I continue to welcome as much as you may offer.  

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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Chocomom,

I can only imagine what you are going through.  Please accept my best wishes for a speedy recovery from this setback.  You sound amazingly courageous (and even upbeat) about rebuilding and starting everything anew.  I think fire is a homeowner's worst nightmare.

 

I did some searching and found two threads that might be of interest to you in designing your new space (the second is Kerry's thread on her chocolate room):

 

 

 

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Thank you so much, Jim!!!  I cannot wait for a block of time so I can go through and look at all of this!!!!  Oh, for a few quiet minutes!  


-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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ChocoMom ... just another short note to say I am so very sorry too that the effects of the fire seem to be having ongoing medical consequences for your family. I hope everyone is feeling much better soon!

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Hurting for you Andrea. But also envying the clean slate for rethinking your chocolate room.

 

Thanks Jim for posting the link to the thread about my chocolate room - Anna and I were talking about this today - and I said I should post a picture of what it looks like today - but not sure you can see any of the surfaces right now - I tend to fill any space! The floors are covered with boxes of easter molds, the tables with more molds, couple of temper meters, ingredients for future projects... 

 

If I open the door to take a picture - the new cat will fly down the stairs and I'll spend 10 minutes trying to convince her to come back up. Right now the freeze dryer is sitting in the middle of the room - hubby shoved it in there because it was getting in his way while he's renovating. 

 

I'm a fan of moveable stainless tables - preferably on wheels - that can be moved around the room for different layouts depending on what you are trying to get done. Putting a large slab of granite on top of one would be nice. Perhaps a nice big tool chest with a bit of counter top on it to hold your scrapers etc. Of course the big commercial glass door fridge beast again. I don't know if you want a freezer in there or somewhere else in the house. Dishwasher, 3 compartment sink, spray booth. Wiring for any potential future equipment. 

 

The row of shelving that hubby built over the window to hold molds is great. Couple of speed racks of course to hold work in progress (or more piles of stuff).

 

As to thermomix vs robotcoupe - they serve different purposes - I like the thermomix for making ganaches quickly, but the food processor has it's uses for praline etc. 

 

I'd love for you to start a thread on the rebuild - so we can follow along with the progress.

 

 

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I will keep you all up-to-date, indeed.   I went through your building thread, Kerry. Love the G-Floor!!!  Not just for the shop, but for the garage and basement as well. I had tiled the original room myself with the Congoleum vinyl-tile hybrid pieces. Loved working with it, but the textured finish made cleaning up rather bothersome.  The G-floor would likely be more cost effective.   Haven't decided on the room dimensions yet, but will give myself more space this time around.  What I failed to do well before was to designate a whole table area for labeling, packaging and bagging up orders; and to allow enough space for packaging inventory. So...I have to really think this out carefully. 

I really like your window as well. I had shied away from that, just because I didn't was afraid of the potential heat/light damage to chocolate.  We had a through-the-wall HE A/C unit to keep the place cool; plus a dehumidifier. And, I purposefully designated a space for the stove/oven with the Broan fan over it, so the vent would have a straight, short shot out the back wall.  I had built at table-top plexi-glass spray booth that I could use next to the stove, and the Broan would just suck up all the excess. That whole thing was a great setup.   But, with your help, I think it can get better!  

 

Relatively speaking, this is silly and inconsequential, yet one of the biggest downers:  I really miss my LOTR door. It totally sucks losing that. The craftsman worked for MONTHS on it, only to have it become a $2K chunk of fire wood.  Dang. 

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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The reason I ended up with the G-floor was because they left the roof open and it rained and sand and gravel ruined my very expensive polished concrete floor.  It's still bumpy and little hard to clean because of that - if they make one without bumps that would probably be even better.

 

Packaging area would be brilliant - of course I'd just pile other stuff on it!

 

My window is only an issue at certain times of year and certain times of day. It was supposed to be higher up - but then again so was the ceiling! Small foul up of the builder failing to realize the basement was 5 inches lower than the addition - so I lost 5 inches of head room, have a short door and ramp that goes into the existing basement. Everything that went wrong with the reno came out of my chocolate room.

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Well, I have a small update. . The interior of the foundation is completely mucked out, and the walls are braced to handle the hydrostatic pressure when we begin the spring melt.  The current weather will not allow us to excavate any more debris into the tralior right now, so hubby and I spent a bit of time working on new house plans. Employed a bit of creativity, and ended up with a 14.5 ft by 10 ft space for the new shop. (I think it is slightly larger than the old one.) There is a central entrance to the house- an enclosed porch of sorts- with in floor heat.  Once inside the porch/entrance area, there is a door adjacent to the front, which leads into the chocolate room. (The second door directly ahead leads into the front of the dining room and kitchen-which are both enormous areas).  So...that will be a perfect spot for people picking up orders. We've decided to use rock and sand, bringing the ground level in front even with the house level, and then paving it. No one will have to use steps to get in and out. (We were planning ahead for those days when the knees/ankles/hips might not work so well.)  And, that will be nice for some of my elderly customers.  

   I finished the house inventory yesterday, and the chocolate room had 6 pages of items...and those are only the things I remembered! I know there were plenty of little things I forgot about. But, we maxed out our insurance policy, so it wouldn't do any good to go back and amend it.  

  As for timing, the building plans are approved. And, we've submitted the plans for bids on the truss/joist packages. One of the truss companies will prefab the interior and exterior wall systems. (only the studs and headers....not the siding and drywall.) So, things would move along quickly, if we signed on with them and had our wall systems built now.  For now, we wait on quotes and the insurance company.  

Given my fondness of pink, I happened upon a pale pink stove/oven online. Can't remember if it was Aga or AJMadison, or who. I was just kind of tickled to find something like that. Contemplating the Selmi, (though I really adored my Rev's from Chocovision. I had one of them for nearly 19 years..and it worked beautifully.)  Did someone say the Selmi requires a 220 outlet?  I plan to have 2 -  220 outlets installed. regardless. I haven't had time to really look at the refrigeration units again. I plan to get the monster, glass door beast; and also a wine fridge or refrigerated case for the finished pieces.  So much depends on the insurance at this point. 

And that's all I've got for now. Keep the ideas coming, whenever you have any!! Its all so very much appreciated!   

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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I agree with Kerry about the moveable stainless tables. Look at the restaurant supply places online they carry ones that have cabinets built in below and on top. You can customize them.

 

When I redo my kitchen, I am pretty much just putting in a commercial kitchen:  all walls 100% tiled floor to ceiling, tiled floors, the curved tile joining walls and floors, floor drain (if possible), small 3 compartment sink with a dishwasher under the right-hand side draining area, hood, appliances, then all counters/cabinets will be moveable steel items. No affixed cabinets at all, no wood. One large work table will have a marble top.

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