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annachan

chocolatier school

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I've been looking into books and resources for making truffles lately and ran across Ecole Chocolat. It's in Vancouver and offers an online course. I'm tempted because the price is reasonable ($595 for a 3 month course) and it offers a followup hands-on course (one week) in either Vancouver, Tuscany or Paris (@ Valrhona's Ecole du Grand Chocolat!).

I've been making candy as gifts for the past 15 years and have been considering making a career out of it lately. I would really like to concentrate on chocolate and candy. I'm not sure I'm ready to quit my job and go to school full time, due to financial reasons, so I'm excited about this online course. I'm thinking this could be a first step in seeing if this is the career for me.

Anyone have any thought/suggestion on this? Also, if you know of any other programs available that may serve my needs, I appreciate the resource.

Thanks!

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I have spoken with Pam who runs Ecole Chocolat a number of times. She is quite knowledgeable and I believe her course would be quite solid. She has a background in online education as she helps develop online courses for her local university. Thus, her university feels that her courses are well put together (otherwise they'd have someone else do it.) She isn't just some schmoe who put an online course together, she has quite a bit of experience along these lines.

If I were to take a chocolate confections course, Pam's would probably top my list. Why? Because I could take it in my own time at my own pace and fit it in my already hectic (and chocolate filled) schedule. There are always additional courses you can take if you feel that you need / want more but I'd start out with Pam's and see how you like it then perhaps select the next course as your needs dictate.

-Art

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Don't want to rain on anyones parade but, to me?

This looks dubious.

Chocolate, almost more than anything else in pastrywork besides sugarwork, demands observation and hands on work around people in real time.

The Valrhona school part would be great, absolutely.

I also thought it was sort of strange that the site ( at least on the front page) featured books on chocolate that for the most part aren't really pro oriented.

The Jean- Pierre Wybauw book 'Fine Chocolates' should be right at the front for a serious yet more or less affordable look into the world of artisan chocolate work.

I'm not sure where you're located so it's hard to suggest any schools etc. that could be useful to you.

And although it hurts me to say this anytime, if going to school would be hard to handle due to financial reasons, making a job out of pastry/candy/chocolate work on an entry level would be close to impossible for almost anyone who HAS to make a serious income to live in most cases.

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I have taken the Ecole Chocolat course, and have mixed reactions. I may not have been an ideal student for the course as I had already been making chocolates for my own shop for 4 years, but I wanted to gain some knowledge about what I was doing, and to expand the variety of my products. The first goal was sort of met, the second not. I thought the course was very well researched; the materials provided for reading were quite good. The homework assignments and their follow-up from Pam's assistant I found less helpful. As tan319 suggests, this work probably requires in-person comments.

I hope this helps--if you have any particular questions, feel free to IM me.

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Anna, I am a graduate and would be happy to answer your specific questions. pm me and I'll send you my phone number if you like (i'm in sonoma county)

trish

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Thanks for everyone's input. I understand very well that an online course is not the most ideal. I haven't done extensive research, but from what I can tell, there are not a lot of programs that may fit my current situation of having to keep my full time job and offer more than just the very basics.

The Jean- Pierre Wybauw book 'Fine Chocolates' should be right at the front for a serious yet more or less affordable look into the world of artisan chocolate work.

Tan319: I have my eyes on that book along with SAVEURS CHOCOLATEES, CHOCOLATS & CONFISERIE-Volume 1 & 2, and CHOCOLAT BEHIND THE SCENES on the JB Price website. They are quite pricey so I wasn't sure which ones to get. Any suggestions? BTW, I live in San Francisco.

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annachan:

First off, I have to say I'm not an expert on the subject of fine chocolate work :biggrin:

BUT...

When I was investing into some of these pro books, I went with the Frederic Bau ( who runs Valrhonas school in France as well as is their executive chef) book 'AU COEUR DES SAVEURS'.

Au Coeur Des Saveurs

which is a bit more pricey then the Wybauw book that many I know have raved about.

I think it would be a great investment of a hundred bucks.

As far as schools go in the SF area, you know what I was thinking about?

Find a chocolatier in SF whose work is great and see if you can hang out there on days you aren't working your regular gig and pick up some ideas and practical stuff that you're looking for.

Good Luck!

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Michael Recchiuti comes to mind as a local SF person.

Also, find out if the CCA (California Culinary Academy) has any part time courses in chocolate/candy making. If their instructor Chef Devin is still there, she's great. Her stuff is mostly "old school" mostly because that is what they have to teach, but she's a whiz with chocolate.

edited to add: if you've been making chocolates/candies for 15 years, then maybe all you need are a few books. to be honest, the demos here on eGullet are great. whether done by professionals or not, they are a great resource...probably better than an on-line course and they have the added benefit of being FREE. the only thing you need to do is practice!

i would get the wybauw book if you're looking to focus on chocolate. you can find it cheaper than the JB Prince price though. look at this link (it's in canadian $$ but even with shipping it ends up cheaper) Chocolate Books and Molds


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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annachan:

When I was investing into some of these pro books, I went with the Frederic Bau ( who runs Valrhonas school in France as well as is their executive chef) book 'AU COEUR DES SAVEURS'.

Can you tell me if this book is in English? I've got a lot of pro pastry/chocolate books and some are in French only. Looking at the supplied URL, I couldn't figure out what language this book is, but I'm presuming French only.

Thanks

Dan

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the one i have is in french and english and i bought it at jb prince

Ditto and there is much info in there.

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Also, find out if the CCA (California Culinary Academy) has any part time courses in chocolate/candy making.  If their instructor Chef Devin is still there, she's great.  Her stuff is mostly "old school" mostly because that is what they have to teach, but she's a whiz with chocolate.

I just called the CCA and the person on the phone wasn't even interested in talking to me when I mentioned that I'm interested in chocolate/candy making only. She said what they have is one class in the baking/pastry program that deals w/ chocolate and ended the conversation when I said I wasn't interested in the entire program. I saw on their website that they offer weekend classes. I'll look into that more when they have an updated schedule for that. They still have the summer 2005 schedule online.

i would get the wybauw book if you're looking to focus on chocolate.  you can find it cheaper than the JB Prince price though.  look at this link (it's in canadian $$ but even with shipping it ends up cheaper) Chocolate Books and Molds

I'll definitely look into the chocolat-chocolat website for books as well (I love the chocolate molds they have! :wub: ). I notice that some books are less and some are more than JB Prince. I'll probably look on Amazon and Abe as well to see if I can get better prices. With so many books I want, I got to do some comparative shopping. :laugh:

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Michael Recchiuti comes to mind as a local SF person.

FYI - him and Fran Gage is doing a Chocolate Obsession demo class @ Sur La Table in February. 2/8 in SF and 2/9 in Los Gatos @ 6:30. I think I'll be signing up for that one! :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

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