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tammylc

Adventures in Starting a Chocolate Business

260 posts in this topic

congratulations tammy!!!!!

I had a quick question. I'm looking at a commercial kitchen tomorrow, and was wondering what I should look for? 

Luis

Depends what you want to use it for! My most important criteria was finding a place that was affordable, since paying much for rental could quickly eliminate any profits I might make. We worked out a profit sharing arrangement, which makes it low risk for me and gives them and incentive to help me grow my business!

You will want some designated space to store your supplies, so there are no conflicts about what belongs to who, and your materials aren't ending up on the floor or something. Obviously you'd want to be sure that everything in the space was in good working order. You'll need to have a conversation about sharing equipment - are you bringing all of your own equipment, or can you use theirs? I'm sharing sheet pans and a food processor and things like that, but needed to bring my own small saucepans, as they just don't have the size that I need.

Those are a few ideas to get you started. Hope that helps!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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congratulations tammy!!!!!

I had a quick question. I'm looking at a commercial kitchen tomorrow, and was wondering what I should look for? 

Luis

Depends what you want to use it for! My most important criteria was finding a place that was affordable, since paying much for rental could quickly eliminate any profits I might make. We worked out a profit sharing arrangement, which makes it low risk for me and gives them and incentive to help me grow my business!

You will want some designated space to store your supplies, so there are no conflicts about what belongs to who, and your materials aren't ending up on the floor or something. Obviously you'd want to be sure that everything in the space was in good working order. You'll need to have a conversation about sharing equipment - are you bringing all of your own equipment, or can you use theirs? I'm sharing sheet pans and a food processor and things like that, but needed to bring my own small saucepans, as they just don't have the size that I need.

Those are a few ideas to get you started. Hope that helps!

thanks,

that does help. How did you work out the storage of the chocolates? Do you mainly do enrobed or molded pieces?

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COngratulations Tammy!!! Its nice to know wastn that bad at all , but I know you were ready for it, did your homeworks :biggrin:

One question I still have is , did you had to file tha food handling business license for that as well, I mean I know the inspector gives you the livcense after the inspection , but on the package I downloaded from the web ( for COlorado ) has a lot of stuff that doesnt apply to my case , its more for someone that is moving to a kitchen full time and owns a restaurant type .DId you still have to file those as well?

Thank you and Good luck with your first day as business owner :biggrin:


Vanessa

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COngratulations Tammy!!! Its nice to know wastn that bad at all , but I know you were ready for it, did your homeworks  :biggrin:

One question I still have is , did you had to file tha food handling business license  for that as well, I mean I know the inspector gives you the livcense after the inspection , but on the package I downloaded from the web ( for COlorado ) has a lot of stuff that doesnt apply to my case , its more for someone that is moving to a kitchen full time and owns a restaurant type .DId you still have to file those as well?

Thank you and Good luck with your first day as business owner  :biggrin:

Michigan differentiates between different kinds of establishments. I am a retail food establishment (which lets me sell both wholesale and retail), but not a retail food *service* establishment. I'm guessing that the food handling license you describe probably refers to service establishments. Call whoever the licensing agency is in CO, they should be able to help you figure out what you need to do. Also, there's probably some sort of local small business agency that can answer questions.

To the best of my knowledge, I have now met all my state and county requirements.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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thanks,

that does help. How did you work out the storage of the chocolates? Do you mainly do enrobed or molded pieces?

I do a mix of enrobed and molded pieces, and the ratio is still working itself out. I won't be storing chocolate there much, if at all, since I'm just making to order and not maintaining a stock.

One of the challenges of working in a space that's not just mine is how to manage air-drying/crusting times. Ultimately, I'm going to investigate getting some sort of enclosed cabinet that I can use for that (like this one, although that's really much bigger than I need), but for now I'll just be managing my work times around their schedule. Fortunately, they are closed on Sundays, so I can leave things out overnight on Saturday.

Anyone have any thoughts on whether using a fan would help speed up this process? Although I expect that sometimes I'll have to "cheat" and use the refrigerator.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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COngratulations Tammy!!! Its nice to know wastn that bad at all , but I know you were ready for it, did your homeworks  :biggrin:

Couple funny things I just remembered. When the inspector left, the owners of the kitchen were totally jealous - "She was sooo easy on you! She's never that nice to us!" On the way there that morning I'd been saying to myself, "I hope she's not in a bad mood!" and I guess that worked. Her laptop was in the shop, so she was a little off her game, having to do everything by hand.

We had a long conversation/debate about labeling, with her saying that I needed to clearly spell out the exact contents of a box on the label. Ie. 4 caramel filled chocolates, 4 coffee-liquer flavored chocolates, etc. Which is clearly not the case, given all the boxes of assorted chocolates (Pot of Gold, etc) you can buy in stores, with mystery pieces that you have to bite into to identify.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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This inspector will create a labeling nightmare for you. If you follow the recommendation you will be spending as much time labeling as making chocolate. Show her a box of Godiva which you can get at Bsarnes & Noble, they don't do what she is wants.

Mark


Mark

www.roseconfections.com

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This inspector will create a labeling nightmare for you. If you follow the recommendation you will be spending as much time labeling as  making chocolate. Show her a box of Godiva which you can get at Bsarnes & Noble, they don't do what she is wants.

Mark

That's where we settled things, actually - I agreed to go look at a box of mass market chocolates and follow their lead. Because I know that they are not required to do what it is she's asking for.

Thanks, Mark!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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thanks,

that does help. How did you work out the storage of the chocolates? Do you mainly do enrobed or molded pieces?

I do a mix of enrobed and molded pieces, and the ratio is still working itself out. I won't be storing chocolate there much, if at all, since I'm just making to order and not maintaining a stock.

One of the challenges of working in a space that's not just mine is how to manage air-drying/crusting times. Ultimately, I'm going to investigate getting some sort of enclosed cabinet that I can use for that (like this one, although that's really much bigger than I need), but for now I'll just be managing my work times around their schedule. Fortunately, they are closed on Sundays, so I can leave things out overnight on Saturday.

Anyone have any thoughts on whether using a fan would help speed up this process? Although I expect that sometimes I'll have to "cheat" and use the refrigerator.

I wonder if a climate-controlled wine storage unit would fit the bill as a way to store the chocolates overnight and facilitate the air drying/crusting of the ganaches?

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COngratulations Tammy!!! Its nice to know wastn that bad at all , but I know you were ready for it, did your homeworks  :biggrin:

One question I still have is , did you had to file tha food handling business license  for that as well, I mean I know the inspector gives you the livcense after the inspection , but on the package I downloaded from the web ( for COlorado ) has a lot of stuff that doesnt apply to my case , its more for someone that is moving to a kitchen full time and owns a restaurant type .DId you still have to file those as well?

Thank you and Good luck with your first day as business owner  :biggrin:

Michigan differentiates between different kinds of establishments. I am a retail food establishment (which lets me sell both wholesale and retail), but not a retail food *service* establishment. I'm guessing that the food handling license you describe probably refers to service establishments. Call whoever the licensing agency is in CO, they should be able to help you figure out what you need to do. Also, there's probably some sort of local small business agency that can answer questions.

To the best of my knowledge, I have now met all my state and county requirements.

Thank you much Tammy, I will definatelly call the department and ask for this specific case .

:smile:


Vanessa

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I wonder if a climate-controlled wine storage unit would fit the bill as a way to store the chocolates overnight and facilitate the air drying/crusting of the ganaches?

Possibly. But most wine coolers are geared to maintaining humidity, not getting rid of it, so I'm not sure. I did see a little countertop wine cooler at Home Goods yesterday and considered it briefly. But they're not cheap either...


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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This inspector will create a labeling nightmare for you. If you follow the recommendation you will be spending as much time labeling as  making chocolate. Show her a box of Godiva which you can get at Bsarnes & Noble, they don't do what she is wants.

Mark

That's where we settled things, actually - I agreed to go look at a box of mass market chocolates and follow their lead. Because I know that they are not required to do what it is she's asking for.

Thanks, Mark!

that's right, there is nothing that states that you have to list all ingredients.

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that's right, there is nothing that states that you have to list all ingredients.

Well, you do have to list all the ingredients, although you can use "flavorings" and "spices" and the like. Our debate was on how specific the package labeling had to be, with me arguing that "assorted chocolates" was fine, and her saying that I needed to explicitly spell out what the assortment was.

The confusion was probably mostly my fault, I have to admit. In my current business model, I have special occasion sales, where I make lots of chocolate at once to fill a bunch of orders. There's a limited flavor selection to choose from, but people can be quite precise about what goes in their box (2 caramel, 3 passionfruit, 1 hazelnut, etc). So I thought the best way to go would be to make a label that gives the ingredients for each of the potential chocolates, knowing that not everyone will have all those flavors. I make a flavor guide insert with pictures, so people can cross reference if they need to know the ingredients for a particular piece. If I'd just presented her with a label that assumed an equal amount of each chocolate and had the ingredients for them lumped all together, she probably wouldn't have batted an eye. But she got all caught up in the level of specificity and worried about "fanciful names." Live and learn!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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that's right, there is nothing that states that you have to list all ingredients.

Well, you do have to list all the ingredients, although you can use "flavorings" and "spices" and the like. Our debate was on how specific the package labeling had to be, with me arguing that "assorted chocolates" was fine, and her saying that I needed to explicitly spell out what the assortment was.

The confusion was probably mostly my fault, I have to admit. In my current business model, I have special occasion sales, where I make lots of chocolate at once to fill a bunch of orders. There's a limited flavor selection to choose from, but people can be quite precise about what goes in their box (2 caramel, 3 passionfruit, 1 hazelnut, etc). So I thought the best way to go would be to make a label that gives the ingredients for each of the potential chocolates, knowing that not everyone will have all those flavors. I make a flavor guide insert with pictures, so people can cross reference if they need to know the ingredients for a particular piece. If I'd just presented her with a label that assumed an equal amount of each chocolate and had the ingredients for them lumped all together, she probably wouldn't have batted an eye. But she got all caught up in the level of specificity and worried about "fanciful names." Live and learn!

[/q

I was in the class with andrew shotts and I believe he said there is no law that requieres you to list ingredients. Unless I heard him incorrectly.

I also happen to have a box of jacque torres chocolates and he doesn't list anything on his box.

Luis

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[/q

I was in the class with andrew shotts and I believe he said there is no law that requieres you to list ingredients. Unless I heard him incorrectly.

I also happen to have a box of jacque torres chocolates and he doesn't list anything on his box.

Luis


Mark

www.roseconfections.com

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I talked a supervisor with the Orange County, CA health department earlier today and he told me if something is sold by piece (not prepackaged), then you do not need to label anything. If you sell something that's prepackaged (boxed chocolates, etc.), then you must list all ingredients in order of amount used. He lead me to believe that this was a federal law, but I didn't ask him if it was or not. Maybe some chocolatiers are avoiding this law by saying they do sell by the piece and that the box is just a way of packaging it (like a bag would be for groceries, fast food, etc). I do know that John & Kira's Chocolate in PA label the bottom of there chocolates, they're artisan chocolatiers and do a very large volume (at least for a smaller producer). Recchitti in San Fran. also labels their product on the bottom of the box.

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I was just today reading more about labeling ( colorado ) and as Christopher said if you sell the chocolates by the piece you dont need to put the ingredient label, but you need to have a list of ingredients available upon request.Also at least here is you sell them where you manifactured and pack them you dont need to put other info other than list ingredients.( if you produce less than 10.000 units per year you dont need nutrition info also ).

I think I have seen assorted chocolates boxes with a bounch of ingredients listed of everything the might put in it even if maybe they are not , like Tammy said .


Vanessa

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code for my area:

also, may want to consider allergy labeling to decrease liability, and your insurance rates may benefit

3-602.11 Food Labels.

(A) FOOD PACKAGED in a FOOD ESTABLISHMENT shall be labeled as specified in LAW, including chapter 69.04

RCW; 21 CFR 101 - Food Labeling; and 9 CFR 317 - Labeling, Marking Devices, and Containers.

[Amended by WAC 246-215-051(8)]

(B) Label information shall include:

(1) The common name of the FOOD, or absent a common name, an adequately descriptive identity

statement;

WAC 246-215 Working Document 12/04 32 Chapter 3: Food

(2) If made from two or more ingredients, a list of ingredients in descending order of predominance by

weight, including a declaration of artificial color or flavor and chemical preservatives, if contained in

the FOOD;

(3) An accurate declaration of the quantity of contents;

(4) The name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; and

(5) Except as exempted in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act § 403(Q)(3)-(5), nutrition

labeling as specified in 21 CFR 101 - FOOD Labeling and 9 CFR 317 Subpart B Nutrition Labeling.

(6) For any salmonid FISH containing canthaxanthin as a COLOR ADDITIVE, the labeling of the bulk FISH

container, including a list of ingredients, displayed on the retail container or by other written means,

such as a counter card, that discloses the use of canthaxanthin.

© Bulk FOOD that is available for CONSUMER self-dispensing shall be prominently

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You must also supply a list of allergens that may be present in your product. Such as peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat....

That is the reason for listing the ingredients. Its not that hard to do and just makes sense.

What I did was create a Microsoft Access database that listed my product name, weight, and ingredients. Then I used mail merge in Microsoft Publisher to create my labels and merge them with my database.

If there was a change to ingredients, I just update the db and then reprint the labels. By the way, the HP 2600n color laser printer does a great job on labels and you can find them in the 200-300 dollar range.


Patrick Sikes

www.MyChocolateJournal.com

A new chocolate review community

PS I Love You Fine Chocolates

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Tonight was my first night using the commercial kitchen. It went well. I left the house just after 7:30 pm and got home just before 1:30 am. That included going to Meijer to do various shopping, washing all of the new equipment I'd purchased, and get oriented to the space and stuff organized. (I need one more storage bin to do that last part right.) Oh, and making 200 pieces of chocolate, of course.

I was only planning on making 100, but there's an event planner vendor's showcase thing going on this week, so I figured I might as well make extra so I could take little boxes of chocolate to it to hand out with my card.

There were some very good things about the space - lots of room, for one. Three compartment commercial dishwashing equipment, for another. Keeping up with the dishes was really, really easy. Lots of spare equipment I could use - no need to keep rewashing my rubber spatulas, for example - I could just grab another one from the drawer.

And there were some things that were not so good - they keep the temperature in the kitchen very low - 61 degrees. Things did set up more quickly, so I had to be really on top of managing the temperature and the level of beta crystals in my chocolate. Preheating my molds (by blowing hot air on them with a blow dryer) helped, but a couple times I forgot to do it. Still, I only have one tray that's really excessively thick. It also has some temper issues, so it might be a lost cause anyway. We'll see tomorrow.

Since they only have big giant pots, I bought a couple of smaller stainless steel pans to use for making caramel and the like. But what I didn't realize is that the single burner unit they have is not an electric burner, as I'd thought, but an induction burner. Which is very cool, except that it requires a pan of a certain diameter, and mine was not wide enough. So I ended up having to use the big pot to make the caramel. I don't know if it was an consequence of making it in a too big pot, or just that the kitchen was sooo cold, but the caramel stiffened up a lot and was difficult to work with. We'll see what they're like tomorrow when they are at warmer room temperature - they may end up being a chewier caramel rather than a creamier caramel, but that's okay. I don't know what I'll do about this in the long run - try to find a slightly bigger pot? Buy my own hot plate that's a better size for me?

I have to get up bright and early tomorrow to go back in and cap off the molds. And, if I'm feeling really motivated, dip some pretzels and Oreos in the leftover chocolate. Then I need to go to Baker's Nook to pick up packaging materials for the boxes I'll hopefully sell tomorrow. And Staples to get business card stock and labels. Then into my office to print some business cards on the nice color laser printer there. Then I have to make the ingredient and date/weight labels, so I can put those on the boxes and meet those pesky labeling requirements. And then get back to the kitchen by 1 when the anniversary party starts. Damn, that's just too much stuff to do, with not enough time. It was a busy week at work and in the evenings, so there was only so much I was able to do, unfortunately.

But for now, sleep would be good. If I'm lucky, I can get 5 hours.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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I usually work form my basement and its below 60 :hmmm: , so I am sure youll get the hang of it , some things that you will figure out soon, was the first time so I think it went pretty well anyway.For the burner , make sure , if you get an extra one , that is sommercial type ( I think they will be picky about having any non commercial stuff around ),anyway, I was looking for extra pans and pot as well, You can get a bigger pan for the caramel , not as big as the one they use in there.

You will get better idea as you go .I know the time is not much, and I am already feeling tired and I havent start yet, but with a family a baby and a full time job , starting your own business even if small, its pretty challenging ( we are in the same situation :rolleyes: ),but hang in there eventually the business will get so good that you will do that full time instead of you actual job ( at least thats what I hope for myself ).

Keep us update and good luck :wink:


Vanessa

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I usually work form my basement and its below 60  :hmmm: , so I am sure youll get the hang of it , some things that you will figure out soon, was the first time so I think it went pretty well anyway.For the burner , make sure , if you get an extra one , that is sommercial type ( I think they will be picky about having any non commercial stuff around ),anyway, I was looking for extra pans and pot as well, You can get a bigger pan for the caramel , not as big as the one they use in there.

You will get better idea as you go .I know the time is not much, and I am already feeling tired and I havent start yet, but with a family a baby and a full time job , starting your own business even if small, its pretty challenging ( we are in the same situation  :rolleyes: ),but hang in there eventually the business will get so good that you will do that full time instead of you actual job ( at least thats what I hope for myself ).

Keep us update and good luck  :wink:

Thanks Vanessa - I appreciate the support!

I'm still figuring out if this is something that I would want to do full time. It's certainly an exciting idea, but also an exhausting one - constantly having to think about marketing and promotion and keeping myself in business.

My poor son was so sad when I had to leave yesterday. He was clinging to me and saying "Mommy, don't go. Don't go, mommy." That was really hard. We're going to do some special fun stuff today, though, to make up for it.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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The event yesterday went really well. I had a lot of people whose first reaction was "But those are too pretty to eat!" Very gratifying, and I was able to convince most of them that really, it really was okay to eat them. Then word started getting around and it got much easier!

I didn't make a ton of sales, but I didn't really expect to. I gave out some cards and some flyers, added some names to my mailing list and - most importantly - got some really good networking done.

Some memorable moments:

The women who's first question was "Do you do corporate gifts?" Why yes, yes I do.

The 12 or 13-year-old boy who made a point of coming up to tell me that my chocolates were really, really good.

Helping out a new mom, by telling her that most (good) dark chocolate is dairy-free, so she doesn't have to give up chocolate entirely now that she's giving up dairy (because of her breastfeeding baby having trouble). (All my filled pieces had dairy from other sources, but she did grab a couple of chocolate-covered pretzels.)

Spending the day chatting with another local small business owner (a coffee roaster) about business, and our favorite local restaurants.

So all in all, a good experience, and hopefully will lead to sales down the road. The new mom I mentioned above is on maternity leave from Detroit area lifestyle magazine, and she encouraged me to send a sample box to the editor, giving me her name and address and her own name to drop.

On Wednesday, I'll be going to a local event planners event to do some schmoozing. I just found out about this group on Thursday - it's a membership organization for event planners at the University and in the community, as well as vendors and suppliers. They're having a vendor showcase on Wednesday. I'm sure it's too late or too expensive to get a table of my own (although I'm planning to contact them to check), but I made up a bunch of small boxes to hand out with cards and figure I can at least do some informal meeting and greeting.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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    • By ChristysConfections
      I have an opportunity to work as the head chocolatier for a local chocolate business. I will be going in to discuss with the owner tomorrow. I am notorious for undervaluing myself and my skills, but I want to change that. I have worked in the industry for 10 years and worked in one of the larger artisan local chocolate companies for 5 years. Does anyone know what the going hourly rate it for this type of position? I would be developing new recipes and running all production operations myself. It's only a part time gig (at the moment, as they have very small production). I will continue with my own business on the side for now - the owner knows this and is completely comfortable with it. I would possibly even be able to be the successor to this business once the owner retires. 
       
      Also, anyone have input on working as an employee while developing recipes for another business? I feel so protective of my recipes that I will be sad to see some become the property of another business. I guess it is just all part of the nature of this line of work. I could be a sub-contractor and just provide this company with product, but they would prefer that I work and consult with them in-house and utilize their facilities.  
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