The enormously talented and exuberant Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres of Jacques Torres Chocolate, has had a career rich with many firsts, lovingly wrapped in chocolate. (World-class pastry chef, Dean of Pastry Arts at the French Culinary Institute, James Beard Foundation Award Winner, TV host, author, humble chocolatier, to name a few.)
Why chocolate? “Chocolate is a magical product, the food of gods and lovers,” he says.
When asked: What is the best training to follow to become a chocolatier?
He answers: “Education trains your mind. Practice trains your hands. You have to be willing to make lots of mistakes and that will undoubtedly lead to many discoveries. Work in the best quality places—start where you want to end up.”
And: What advice do you have for someone looking to follow your footsteps?
He responds: “Work hard, stay late, arrive early, never compromise on quality, try to learn from the people who are already in the profession and are having success, ask questions, listen to the answers.
You must have passion for this business. You can’t learn to have passion. You either have it or you don’t. Don’t get into this business unless you have that passion. If you do, then the long hours and hard work won’t matter to you.
Always stay positive. Your mind has great power. If you continually think positive thoughts, you will be more likely to succeed. Never let those around you know when you’re stressed or tired. Take control of your emotions by focusing on the good.”
According to a 2009 Forbes article, Jacques Torres Chocolate, launched in 2000, today comprises 50+ employees, two factories and five retail stores in New York, Atlantic City and Michigan, while pulling in $10 million in revenue in 2008, up 43% from 2007.
Forbes further reports: “That’s some tasty growth in a crowded $16 billion industry, especially at the high end where Torres plays. Small gourmet shops have caught fire in the last decade. About a dozen niche chocolatiers have popped up in New York City in the last five years. Even Hersey has piled on: spending $60 million to acquire Joseph Schmidt Confections and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, two San Francisco chocolatiers, and a year later, scooping up Dagoba Organic Chocolate in Portland, Ore.”
If you think the sweet smell of chocolate is calling your name toward pastry arts school, it is only a matter of finding a place to learn.
Matters Of Fact:
- Many Americans believe that chocolate has a positive influence of their psychological and physical well-being — 52% say chocolate boosts morale and 46% say it revitalizes them.
- New advertising messages suggest that chocolate is heart-healthy (especially on Valentine’s day).
- When people say they’d kill for a chocolate bar, they don’t actually mean what they say: strictly speaking, an addict may kill for a fix but chocoholics experience a craving — not an addiction.
- Video game makers have developed a series of chocolatier adventures with sweet success similar to the Farmville experience.
- The Lindt chocolate company has annual sales of $2.1 billion. The Barry Callebaut company has annual sales of $3.5 billion.