From Paris, our class of 12 took a train about 3 hours south east to the Rhone Alpes Valley and a town called Tain l’Hermitage. This is where the Valrhona school is. Each day we walked to school and spent the day learning techniques, recipes, and making lots of amazing chocolate confections. The class included a diverse group of chocolatiers from around the world and the class was taught in English, though the techniques and recipes we learned were French. Each day for lunch we walked to a darling little house rented by the school to eat a beautifully prepared 5 course lunch, complete with pastry from a class of professional pastry chefs who were also taking a course, wine and of course a cheese plate. The food was amazing. Everything about the experience was magical. and it was also tough work, we moved at a very fast pace and the standards were high. It was tough for people who hadn’t worked in a commercial kitchen, but thankfully my team consisted of 2 experienced pastry chefs and they taught me a lot and we stayed ahead of schedule. I learned so much, and really fell in love with working with chocolate all day. I came back with so many ideas, new techniques, new recipes, and a confidence about working with chocolate. It’s amazing how much you can teach yourself, but even more so, what you can learn from working in a team and having someone there to help you correct your mistakes. I’ve already made a new recipe since returning, basil-infused limoncello white chocolate ganache with milk chocolate. I am working on putting together a plan for a chocolate subscription, much like a CSA where you pay for 3 months or more, and each month receive a mixed box of chocolate. There is so much to research and plan for, I’m doing a lot of costing, visiting commercial kitchens to rent, recipe trials and research, and trying to get as much figured out as possible. Stay tuned!