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Chocolate training
December 4, 2006
8:58 pm
Alicia
United Kingdom
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September 4, 2006
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I had some chocolate training in the past (tempering, Easter eggs, etc.) but would like to train as a chocolatier at a chocolate shop part-time, if I have to do it for free, I don’t mind, I’m that passionate about chocolate.

I don’t know how to approach the chocolatiers here in London, if to contact them by mail or just pop into the shop and introduce myself.

Any ideas?

thanks!

Alicia

Alicia
December 4, 2006
10:30 pm
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
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I would suggest e-mailing them or mailing them and then contacting them either on the phone or right in person shortly after that. Chef’s/chocolatiers will usually never call you back…you have to make the first move…so I would suggest e-mailing him/her and then going in to talk to them…I think that would be best…

Good Luck,
Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Robert

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
December 6, 2006
12:45 pm
chocshop
London, United Kingdom
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April 20, 2005
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Alicia

If you can send me an email with your contact details – I can put you in touch with one or two chocolatiers who may be willing to help you.
Email: chocshop@aol.com

Regards

Michael – Home Chocolate Factory

December 21, 2006
5:30 am
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
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Try to recruit there Jeff?
Well just to let you know…he’s got a great business if you decide to follow up with “The Chef”!

Are you lookin for more chocolatiers Jeff?

Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
December 21, 2006
7:13 pm
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
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Well have you ever tried contacting a Culinary school to get an extern of pastry and baking to come and join you? could be good…try them out for 6 weeks and then let them know if they got a job to stay on…
If I was in Oregon I might have to come make a few chocolates with ya but I’m all the way in Cali…well I hope you find somebody…

If you want to check culinary schools you can try…
Western Culinary Insitute in Portland(close by)
California Culinary Institute in San Fran
Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell(san jose)

Just a thought
Have a good one Jeff,
Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
December 22, 2006
7:12 pm
rrmc55
hayward, USA
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October 26, 2006
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Hey Chef, It does sound interesting. I’d be interested in being a apprentice. I’ve completed the Ecole Chocolate Arts program online and I would love to do an apprenticship somewhere. The problem is I do work a 40hour work week in San Francisco but I do have 20 vacation days if you would consider a 2 week stint. I do make my own confections at home, I just completed my holiday season too. I sold 100 box’s although it’s nothing compared to what you do on the grand scale I did it all myself and it was and is a 40hour work week. I’ve been putting in 12hour days on the weekend and 4 hours when I get home. Tried YES but I LOVE IT!! So if you would like to take on a rookie here is my home email rrmc55@aol.com. Thanks, Rena

December 22, 2006
7:41 pm
Alicia
United Kingdom
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September 4, 2006
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Thanks everybody for your help. I see this is leading to a nice debate, although The Chef, hey, I see that the job can be tiring and boring and repetitive sometimes but which job isn’t?

Alicia

Alicia
December 22, 2006
8:09 pm
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
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Well food jobs do have their own level of exhaustion…and I think anyone in food can attest to that…other jobs probably have their own quirks but working in food is just plain rough on the mind and body sometimes…not complaining becuase I enjoy it but just sayin…

Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
December 27, 2006
5:32 pm
Sebastian
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September 30, 2004
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ah chef – now i know who you are – i’m slow but i can be taught. i brought my daughter with me to this years chocolate show in ny, you did one of the classes for the wee ones with her – she loved it 8-)

December 28, 2006
12:06 pm
Sebastian
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Dude, she’s 7. ANYTHING that involves arts, crafts, and edible sugar is going to be top rated 8-) Wish i’d known you were shorthanded, i’d gladly have jumped in to assist.

December 28, 2006
5:29 pm
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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October 13, 2009
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quote:


Originally posted by The Chef

alicia,

I cant think of any job that doesnt have some level of boring to it. Of course I spent some 20 years bangin around kicthens on the west coast before i took this plunge. For me its all about the process. There is not one single recipe for any of my pieces written down; which means my trainees have to think on their feet and have a memory. I tell them ;”become one with the chocolate” “Its a fluid being” ” Its all in the feel” “You just KNOW”…..these are vague and sometimes frustrating instructions that are really just shortcuts for me teaching them the tempering curve. “run a tester! is it shiny?” “Go for it, now!”
….


My guess is that this may be a large part of why you’re having difficulty finding and retaining an apprentice. Vague, intuitive instructions are *useless* to the trainee – especially if the expectation is that they’ll get it right immediately. In a production environment, yes, you *do* have to get things right, but this then comes at the price of having to standardise the process so that you can give trainees exact and specific instructions, that they can follow and get good results with a minimum of additional input.

If, OTOH, you don’t want to or can’t spend the time to standardise and document the process in exacting detail then the price to be paid is that you can’t expect consistent results from the beginner – beginners who at the outset can have no idea the exact results you are looking for. What training they have had may not even be relevant if the stylistic choices their trainers preferred are radically different from your own. This alternative choice means, therefore, if you choose to adopt it, that you can’t have your new hires hit the ground running – they will have to spend some weeks or possibly even months mastering the specific style before they’re ready for production work.

I think you can see the pattern – either approach requires an investment of time on your part. And there is no way of escaping that. To try to do so is to fall into the wishful-thinking trap of imagining you can hire your future employee today: “future” in the sense that the training and skills level that they have is that which they will possess after having been there a while. And you can’t, not unless you possess both a time machine and some unusual way of circumventing laws of causality.

Finally, if you find your business margins are so tight you can’t afford either option, then your problem is very basic indeed: you’re undercapitalised. You need either to get a loan to cover the costs of growth (i.e. of hiring new people), or if this is impractical, simply wait to grow until your profitability improves. No easy cheap solutions here.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
December 29, 2006
7:26 am
HawaiiChocolate
Hawaii National Park, USA
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December 4, 2006
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Hey chef, If I were closer Id take your environment on. I specialized in running a high production jewelry manufacturing co for 25 years and consulting to many others on organizing production workflow and order filling….this is the same thing. Alex is right. We call them standard operating procedures ( SOP) You document every step so an 8th grader can understand it and you get the same results each time. Occasionaly you get a star that will put his own artistic stamp to something after they are comfortable with the regular procedures. If not, then you at least get consistent results. Give it a try on one item and see the results. If you are too busy hire someone else to document and test and create a book for you of all the procedures including care of machines, and what to do when something goes wrong. I had to do that for a 1000 pc product line and it cuts waste and increases productivity. Best of luck, your chocolates look fabulous.

December 29, 2006
7:57 am
dvdman
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Forum Posts: 27
Member Since:
July 7, 2005
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13

quote:


Originally posted by Alex_Rast

quote:


Originally posted by The Chef

alicia,

I cant think of any job that doesnt have some level of boring to it. Of course I spent some 20 years bangin around kicthens on the west coast before i took this plunge. For me its all about the process. There is not one single recipe for any of my pieces written down; which means my trainees have to think on their feet and have a memory. I tell them ;”become one with the chocolate” “Its a fluid being” ” Its all in the feel” “You just KNOW”…..these are vague and sometimes frustrating instructions that are really just shortcuts for me teaching them the tempering curve. “run a tester! is it shiny?” “Go for it, now!”
….


My guess is that this may be a large part of why you’re having difficulty finding and retaining an apprentice. Vague, intuitive instructions are *useless* to the trainee – especially if the expectation is that they’ll get it right immediately. In a production environment, yes, you *do* have to get things right, but this then comes at the price of having to standardise the process so that you can give trainees exact and specific instructions, that they can follow and get good results with a minimum of additional input.

If, OTOH, you don’t want to or can’t spend the time to standardise and document the process in exacting detail then the price to be paid is that you can’t expect consistent results from the beginner – beginners who at the outset can have no idea the exact results you are looking for. What training they have had may not even be relevant if the stylistic choices their trainers preferred are radically different from your own. This alternative choice means, therefore, if you choose to adopt it, that you can’t have your new hires hit the ground running – they will have to spend some weeks or possibly even months mastering the specific style before they’re ready for production work.

I think you can see the pattern – either approach requires an investment of time on your part. And there is no way of escaping that. To try to do so is to fall into the wishful-thinking trap of imagining you can hire your future employee today: “future” in the sense that the training and skills level that they have is that which they will possess after having been there a while. And you can’t, not unless you possess both a time machine and some unusual way of circumventing laws of causality.

Finally, if you find your business margins are so tight you can’t afford either option, then your problem is very basic indeed: you’re undercapitalised. You need either to get a loan to cover the costs of growth (i.e. of hiring new people), or if this is impractical, simply wait to grow until your profitability improves. No easy cheap solutions here.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com


Alex,

You just wrote what I was thinking a few days ago while reading this thread, but at the time didn’t want to take the time to write it or to get into a heated debate (if it lead to that). I think that “the chef” is a very talented guy and his expectation are very high. I do understand the high expectations, you can’t fault any business owner for that, but sometimes they’re a little to high for even a very talented apprentice. Anyway, very nice post and couldn’t agree with you more.

December 30, 2006
7:35 pm
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 283
Member Since:
October 13, 2009
Offline
14

quote:


Originally posted by The Chef

No debate here. All of you are right. I totally get the premise and understand completely. Hawaiichocolate is completeley correct in her methodology on exactly how to streamline the training and production. Of course I probably wont take it to that level because the nature of what we do is too hands on and should not be reduced to the level of 8th graders. That is exactly what “Amy’s Kitchen” has done here. Yes, you grow astronimically and distribute world wide, but you will give up the personal touch…


I think there’s still a nuance that you may have missed. Don’t be mistaken, when I talked about systemising the process I was talking about at any scale of production. It’s not just for industrial producers or those who seek to move to mass-production volumes. The same rules apply to the small-scale, artisanal chocolatier.

Why do you want to document the procedure in clear terms that anybody can understand? Because, at the outset, the simple level of communication is the only level even an experienced person *can* understand in talking to a new person, or about a new style: you have to reduce it to basics and step-by-step descriptions because to do otherwise is to rely on assumptions, on setps and methods you take as a given that somebody else can an will not: they will have *different* assumptions and sets of givens. So you have to do your best to explain everything including philosophy or what you intend is going to get garbled in what you say.

Why do you want to systemise the process? Because consistency is one of the basic underpinnings of quality. It is necessary, if you are to achieve genuinely first-rate chocolate (or anything else) to be able to repeat results reliably and get predictably good results as a starting point, before you try to push to the limits of quality. Otherwise you start out from a shaky base and end up with inconsistent results – some batches will be good, some bad, and worse still, *nobody will understand why*. So you won’t be able to correct mistakes in production easily and your results will be wildly erratic; and the promising but inconsistent chocolatier must always be ranked one step down, just as the good but unpredictable chef is considered to have room for improvement. Consistent results are not synonymous with generic, medium-quality results!

Now, there is another alternative, but it’s one where there can be no transfer of skills to anyone else. That alternative is to do things entirely intuitively. If you do so, yes, you can develop your own unique methods that work for you, but that’s the key point: they work for *you*. Intuition is by its nature completely personal, thus, you can’t train someone to develop your intuition; you can only give someone the space to develop *their own* intuition. Again this is fine, but from the new hire’s perspective this is equivalent to saying they get no training to speak of and must learn everything themselves. If they’re in an environment where this is allowed and encouraged, and where they are under absolutely no pressure to perform, then that might be OK, at the price of a longer learning time than had they received specific training, but if there is pressure to perform as well, it’s going to be seen as demanding and unfair. Thus if you’d prefer people to learn completely intuitively, you *must* not put any pressure on them to perform.

To summarise, there is no absolute association between the approach (scientific/intuitive) and the production scale (small/large) or market position (mid-range/high-end/elite). But there are absolute tradeoffs on the expectations you can have of your staff and yourself in each case.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
December 31, 2006
4:14 am
The Chef
Barbados
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October 5, 2009
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15

sorry.

I’m done here.

“Life may be sweeter for this…..”

December 31, 2006
11:39 pm
dvdman
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July 7, 2005
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quote:


Originally posted by The Chef

sorry.

I’m done here.

“Life may be sweeter for this…..”


What did you expect when you make bonehead statements!

January 1, 2007
1:07 am
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
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17

Maybe if the people on here were talking to him in a way that isn’t saying “your wrong and I’m right” maybe he would listen to suggestions…He seems like a good guy and would listen if someone had helpful comments…

I’m just saying that it would be better if we talked to each other with respect…thats all…chocolate is a distant second in importance to loving and respecting others.

Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
January 1, 2007
10:40 pm
The Chef
Barbados
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18

We been reduced to name calling? cool.

January 2, 2007
12:11 am
Sebastian
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September 30, 2004
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It’s like i tell my wife all the time – if you’d just always admit i’m always right, we’ll get along great!

</humor>

January 2, 2007
1:23 am
The Chef
Barbados
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LOL! You and MY wife say the same thing!