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I third (or fourth,) this. Oddly enough, I saw a copy yesterday at the Bookzeller in Naperville for five bucks.

(Welcome, West Burber.)

Well damn! Went to the BookZeller today and somebody had already snapped up that copy of the Time Life Candy book. Ok ....who bought my book???? :wink:

(And thanks for the Welcome, Maggie. I live in Aurora :)

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I'm not teaching quite as much as I used to, especially here in Chicago (though I did teach a class at Fox & Obel recently). On my schedule right now are the following classes: the RCI/Pulakos Candy School in Erie, PA, a private class at the Les Dames d'Escoffier annual convention in Chicago, the Paginini Cooking School in Chesterland, OH, and the Southern California Gas Company in Downey, CA. I will also be appearing at the Philadelphia Candy Show in Valley Forge PA (where I'll be giving two seminars), and at the Atlantic City Bakery Show. I will also be giving the chocolate presentations again at the CIA's annual March trip to Oaxaca, MX.

I, too, hear from many budding chocolatiers who want to get into the candy business. Unfortunately, many of them are in a hurry to do so and think they can jump right in, feet first. My advice is to take as many classes as you can, read everything about chocolate that you can get your hands on, and never pass up the opportunity to observe someone working with chocolate. Embarking on a chocolate career is a lot like constructing a house: you must first build a strong foundation and then continue building from the ground up. And whatever you do, don't try to build a skyscraper until you've built a bungalow. In other words, don't bite off more than you can chew.

When I started (way back in the Middle Ages), there weren't many chocolate classes so I had to learn on my own, making lots of mistakes, and working without molds and any kind of specialized equipment. In retrospect, the experience was worth it for me because it forced me to improvise. Doing so fueled my creativity and gave me a passionate intimacy with chocolate that is still with me today. Still, if I had had the opportunity to take classes, I would have jumped at the opportunity to do so. If you can't find a class in your area, get yourself a good book--mine, perhaps. Please forgive my lack of humility, but I know that the information in my books are valid; unfortunately not all chocolate books are created equal.

I owe a good deal of my success to people in the chocolate industry who took me under their wings and shared invaluable experience and information with me. They are truly the most generous professionals that I have ever encountered. That's why I strongly recommend attending as many candy trade shows as possible. There you will meet chocolate manufacturers and be able to talk directly with people who are actually in the chocolate business.

And lastly, my best advice is to take every opportunity to experiment with chocolate and practice, practice, practice. Doing so will improve your skills and enhance your stature in the community.

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Ronnie, you might want to pass this on to your freind: I clicked on the tv this morning and while I was still half asleep I believe I saw a promo for the Long Grove Chocolate Festival (this is in the chicago suburbs), can anyone confirm? I missed it last year and I don't want to miss it again.

Jacque P. demoed there last year and on the trailers I noticed some really well done paintings done in chocolate.....

From my knowledge of your work and Eva's your rather traditional in flavorings and pairings. Just wondering if you enjoy all the contemporary flavor explorations thats driving the boutique chocolate industry now? Have you been to Vosages, in town? Who's work do you like or does anyone in particular excite you? Does any of this disapoint you?

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The Long Grove Chocolate Fesival continues to draw top local chocolatiers each year. I haven't been able to participate in it for the past two years but hope to do so again sometime. Jacquy Pfeiffer delights the crowds each year with his chocolate magic as well as his charming personality. My former student and sometimes assistant, Pam Vieau, also participates. Pam is a terrific chocolatier and a very fine teacher. She was my choice to replace me when I retired from the Wilton School a couple of years ago. Pam is also teaching at Triton College and will soon start teaching classes at Midwest Imports in Chicago. You can reach her at www.chocolateinspirations.com.

I am a great fan of Bob Piron's chocolates in Evanston, IL. He was classically trained in Belgium and is a marvelous chocolatier. Vosges has certainly charged up the candy world with intriguing flavor combinations, but some of them work better than others. My favorite chocolatier is Jim Graham, formerly of Le Francaise in Wheeling, IL, who used to make all of their exceptional chocolates. I'm not sure what Jim is up to these days but if you ever have the opportunity to attend one of his classes or sample his chocolates be sure to do so. Besides being a gentle soul, he has the most refined palate of anyone I know. Now, he's the one who should write a chocolate book!!! Last I heard, he was teaching at the French Pastry school in Wheeling.

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I am a great fan of Bob Piron's chocolates in Evanston, IL.  He was classically trained in Belgium and is a marvelous chocolatier.

I used to live 1 short block from Piron and I really miss it :sad:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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