Thank you for your interest in our programs. As you look at our Professional Chocolatier Program, one of the first questions you may be asking yourself is: "How can I possibly learn to work with chocolate in an online environment?"
Lead Instructor Pam Williams discusses online learning:
In developing the curriculum for the program, I looked back on my own experiences in starting my artisan chocolate business. There were three major attributes I had to master before I could call myself a expert in chocolate. Most of these I learned "on the job" by trial and error – very costly and stressful.
If I can give you one piece of advice, it's this: Learn and master while you have another job or source of income. Once you open your business or start promoting yourself as an expert, you'll be so wrapped up in the "doing" that you won't have time for the "learning," and you'll make mistakes (which cost you money), or worse, make a fool of yourself – I speak from experience.
This is where our online programs can help because our goal is to make sure you know exactly what you're getting into before you start your business. They are affordable and you can learn without having to re-engineer your private or work life.
Our online programs are intensive (you'll spend anywhere from 50 - 120 hours on them) and the curriculums are robust, containing anywhere from 75 to 122 learning activities which will ensure you develop the expertise you need.
Learning activities include: lectures, forums, case studies, images/videos, technique/recipe instructions, online chats, glossaries and questionnaires. Each program has numerous videos covering specific chocolate techniques including tutorials on enrobing, molding, using color on chocolate and more, as well as recipes, production processes and chocolate business cases.
Examples of technique videos embedded in the online curriculum.
Don't get me wrong: Learning with others and from a teacher or chef standing right beside you is great. But it's also expensive and doesn't give you the flexibility of practicing or researching when it fits your schedule.
As well, once your two or three days of hands-on training is over, so is their support. In our programs, we have you with us for two to three months – plenty of time for us to help you solve any problems you run into during your practice.
Now, back to those three important attributes of a chocolate professional that you need to master before launching any chocolate enterprise:
Appreciation of the craft – You continuously strive to improve your chocolate production skills by attention to detail and practicing over and over and over.
Hunger for knowledge – You'll research extensively so you'll know your industry and product inside out. This will give you the confidence to answer any question.
Insatiable curiosity – As a chocolatier or chocolate maker, you come to know what's happening in the industry. You become the definitive source for information for your customers, students, readers or clients. You'll be able to source new suppliers and apply trends in product or processing to your business.
If you have these three attributes before you launch your new career as a chocolatier or chocolate maker, you're already a success. I discuss those attributes in more detail below.
Appreciation of the craft
Our online culinary classes will guide you step by step through a multitude of techniques and processes. After that, it's up to you and unfortunately there is no other way to master those techniques or processes then by practice, practice and more practice. Even the more expensive hands-on courses that are available don't give you enough time. You'll still have to go home and work on your technique and recipe development.
With our program, you won't be alone while you're practicing as you would be after a hands-on course. You'll be sharing your success and failure with your tutor, instructor and classmates. Assignments will direct your skills. For example, one assignment might be to conduct a formal evaluation of chocolate flavor. We then share everyone's unique perspective, experience and research. It's a learning experience far superior to just watching the teacher at the head of the class. And more importantly, you can work on your recipe development or production when it suits your schedule. With online learning we have time to do that over the length of the program instead of cramming all of it into three days or even a week or two.
And you'll keep those relationships you develop with your classmates as a source of support and encouragement in taking your career forward.
Hunger for knowledge
One of the interesting things that came out of my development of the online lectures is that I assumed we would largely be able to rely on textbooks related to chocolate processing, history, manufacture or chemistry. Unfortunately, I found that books dealing in that type of subject matter are very expensive and focused on very large commercial operations.
So to augment our lectures, I had to go to the web for resource readings and case studies. And – guess what! – I found some really fabulous resources that will serve you long after you've completed the program. Sure, you could do this research on your own, given lots of time, but putting your hard-earned money into a formal program makes you get off the couch and get into learning mode. We all work better under deadlines.
We now have the greatest library at our fingertips – the Internet. We have compiled resource links that allow you to delve as lightly or deeply as you need. You'll get a true understanding of the magnitude of the chocolate industry, know who the players are and where to source your ingredients or equipment – again, without spending your valuable time researching on your own.