Chocolate is probably one of the most-loved sweets in the world. In the past few years, the number of craft chocolate brands in India has gone up, resulting in a spurt in the demand for chocolatiers. Rachel Mathews, a chocolatier working at Paul and Mike, an award-winning chocolate manufacturer in Kochi, shares everything one needs to know about a career as a chocolatier.
Role of a chocolatier
A chocolatier is responsible for making, designing and presenting chocolate in a way that is pleasing to the eye. He or she should know how to taste chocolate and tell the difference between the good and the bad ones. A chocolatier also tempers and creates new flavours.
When should one start preparing for the course?
This is not a field where one has to clear an exam to get into. Anyone can get into it at any time. All one needs is to have a discerning taste. One should be able to taste different flavours and tell what is balanced and what is not. One thing that can help anyone coming into the food industry is trying different kinds of food. It will help expand one's palate and is a good way of preparing for the course.
Best colleges and courses
One of the best is Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts, Bengaluru. They have short bean-to-bar chocolate courses that teach the process of making chocolate from a cocoa bean. Another institute is Whitecaps International School of Pastry, also in Bengaluru. They have some of the best pastry chefs teaching the course. Another is Kocoatrait in Chennai. They have both chocolate-making and chocolate-tasting courses. Outside the country, we have Ecole Chocolat, Barry Callebaut Academy, Le Cordon Bleu etc.
Career opportunities are increasing now with a lot of bean-to-bar chocolate companies coming up in India. I believe that the opportunities are even bigger if one has a background as a pastry chef before moving on to making chocolates. One of the sought-after fields is Research and Development (R&D). In every company, there is an R&D section to check if the product can be kept on a shelf. There are quite a lot of opportunities outside of the country too.
Scope for higher education
There are no specific master's courses for chocolate making. Most of the post-graduate courses in food are related to the overall management of the establishment. Master classes, which are also short-term courses, are however available. Many organisations arrange them and those who become masters in the field are the ones who have perfected the art through years of experience.
It can be between Rs 2-7 lakhs per annum for beginners in India. Outside of the country, it can start from (the equivalent of) Rs 20 lakhs.
Your career path
My path to becoming a chocolatier was not a straight one. I started as a graphic designer but then I realised that it was not something that I wanted to do. So, I attended a course in cake making and got into the food industry. Later, I did a one-year diploma course in bakery and confectionery at Kerala Government's Food Craft Institute. During that time, I helped out in the local cafes and met several people in the field. There I met one of my current colleagues and I joined Sprig, another concern of Paul and Mike, when it had an opening.
There chocolatiers from Paul and Mike used to come and ask us to taste their creations while being tested. I quite liked it and when Paul and Mike had a vacancy, I applied and got in.