For all you chocolate lovers out there, it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn the delicious treat can be a bit temperamental.
“You need a relationship with the chocolate; it requires a lot of patience,” says Jennifer Lakhan-D’Souza.
The chef instructor at George Brown College is in the final stages of developing the new Professional Chocolatier Certificate for the school’s continuing education department.
The certificate includes five courses — Introduction to Chocolate, Chocolate Confections, Chocolate Desserts, Chocolate Showpieces and Chocolate Theory — which debut January 2010.
It was created in response to the growth of artisanal chocolate-making in Toronto and provides the fundamental skills for budding chocolatiers.
“It’s a very specialized skill that a lot of pastry chefs are lacking,” says Lakhan-D’Souza.
Her own skills with chocolate have evolved over time.
For the past 12 years she’s worked as a pastry chef, but along the way she has sought to improve her skills with chocolate, taking specialty courses and learning as much as she could about the medium.
When an advisory board at George Brown’s Chef School decided they wanted to see growth in the area of chocolate, they approached Lakhan-D’Souza.
“I really enjoy working with chocolate,” she said.
“There are some people who want nothing to do with it.”
It’s a challenging and finicky substance to work with and she tells her students, “You can’t get frustrated and angry with the chocolate because then it won’t work for you.”
Like many specialized skills, Lakhan-D’Souza says, there are those who just “get it” and those who don’t.
The Professional Chocolatier Certificate is aimed at professionals and experienced hobbyists. Students will learn how to make confections and candies, desserts and show pieces along with specific skills like tempering chocolate for treats like truffles.
When asked if it’s tough to work with chocolate without giving in to temptation, Lakhan-D’Souza said tucking in to it just becomes part of the job.
“When I’m working with chocolate, I’m tasting all the time,” she said.
The courses for the certificate are offered on evenings and weekends at George Brown College.
Introduction to Chocolate — which must be completed first — begins Jan. 14, 2010, and costs $273 for 35 hours of instruction.