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About our Faculty
Our team is here for you from your first question. Throughout your chocolate journey from idea to success, you have the support of people who really care about your learning experience and career development - even long after you have graduated. In the image above, our team (minus Kerry Beal and Dylan Butterbaugh) got together to celebrate at our 20th Anniversary. Front row left to right: Rich Tango-Lowy, Pam Williams, Patti Merriott, Melanie Boudar, Renee Blackstone, Michelle Novosel, Leaf Comstock, Julio Fernandez, Rachel McKinley, Alysha Kropf. Back row left to right: George Soriano, Vince Hallberg, T Lawrence-Simon, Shaman Marlin, Dan O'Doherty.
The instructors for our programs are working chocolate professionals as well as educators. They bring practical, real-world experience to the programs.
EC Founder & Lead Instructor
Cacao Santa Fe
T Lawrence Simon
Cirque du Souffle
Dr. Kerry Beal
The Chocolate Doctor
Dancing Lion Chocolate
Keeping us ALL on track:
EC Program and Marketing Director
More about our Lead Instructor
I founded au Chocolat in 1981 in Vancouver, B.C. after moving there from California, and spent 10 years as master chocolatier. Au Chocolat started as a chocolate-making retail and wholesale business (the present owners are now only wholesale). Our specialty was gourmet chocolate truffles and we had a multitude of flavors in stock at any one time.
Our gourmet chocolate truffles were hand-made. We then either rolled them in a traditional dry coating such as cocoa or nuts or coated them with fine chocolate. At first, we did the chocolate dipping by hand but as sales increased we moved to an enrobing machine. The machine was a life-saver – especially during the holidays when demand for our chocolates peaked.
Our other gourmet chocolate offerings were molded from solid chocolate (our signature was a chocolate duck with a jaunty bow around his neck made with a mold taken from our childhood favorite – a yellow rubber ducky), panned chocolate items such as chocolate-covered espresso beans and our perennial favorite – chocolate mousse cake. In the summer, we included ice cream products as well. When time came to semi-retire from the day-to-day chocolate making business, I was able to sell to a friend-of-a-friend who loved the chocolate-candy making business as much as I did.
During that time, I also taught chocolate-making programs and courses on starting a business for many different organizations. As well, I've written numerous articles on chocolate and chocolate candy making.
I wrote my first cookbook, Oh Truffles by au Chocolat, and while the book is now out of print, it was a best-selling cookbook with a second printing. My goal with the cookbook was to teach home cooks how to work with chocolate and then give them lots of different chocolate recipes to try.
Besides becoming proficient in working with chocolate for obvious business reasons, I always encourage creativity and joy in the chocolate-making process itself. Working with chocolate can be a very sensuous experience. Early chocolatiers used their hands to temper the chocolate and coat the truffles or sugar fillings – some companies still do. Like kneading bread, successful technique becomes one of "feel". The chocolatier knows just when the chocolate mass is ready to use.
I wish you much success in your endeavors and will be delighted if our programs can be of help in getting you where you want to go in an industry that is my passion.
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