I had tried for some time to find a job in bean-to-bar in Canada, but in 2012 there wasn’t anything accessible, or anyone that was hiring. There were maybe 5 companies that existed, and all of them were small, and didn’t have room for a student. Online courses weren’t a thing yet, and Chocolate Alchemy was still very new and fresh. I decided to pursue becoming a chocolatier and pastry chef, because those had been brought to Canada from Europe a long time ago and there were great spaces to stage in. A few months before graduating culinary school I had set up a stage with a place in New York called Momofuku Milk Bar, they were very accessible, and a more low key than all of the French pastry departments going on in New York at the time. I had zero experience, and had never been to New York, so I agreed to stage for the first people who would take me. Obviously Milk Bar is now an empire, and I was incredibly lucky to have been there for the briefest of moments to get to see what is now viewed as a pastry Mecca.
From there I worked as a pastry chef and staged as a chocolatier for some really great places ( Stubbe, Thomas Haas), but nothing really changed my view of chocolate or the growing feeling that I had made a career mistake, until my brother and I took a trip to Portland and walked into a store called At The Meadow. They carried four things; flowers, salt, bitters, and chocolate. I bought 300$ of chocolate that day, and took it back to our hostel to eat in one sitting. After eating too much chocolate, I decided that this one called Omnom was my favourite, and then sent them an e-mail about it.
Here is the actual e-mail:
“My name is Geordan, and I’m a pastry chef from Calgary, alberta.
I came across your company recently while on a trip to Portland with my brother, and was blown away by your company. The only thing I bought on my trip was about 300 $ worth of bean to bar chocolates from all over the world, my favourite by far was yours.
The first Omnom bar that I tried was the lakkris and sea salt bar, and I was hooked. I’ve been looking to do a stage at a bean to bar company for a few years now and hadn’t really come across anything that was incredibly different and unique. I had gone to New York and staged for Momofuku a few years ago and debated staging with Mast Brothers while I was in the big city, but their chocolate just didn’t reel me in like yours does.
I would really like to come and stage for your company, I’ve attached a copy of my resume, in which you’ll find that I’ve worked for a few chocolate companies. I’d be so honoured if you considered letting me in your kitchen. I work very hard, and am eager to learn, and more importantly I would really like to learn from what in my opinion is the best.
So I went to Iceland, and it was incredible.
After that, things get muddled and I plow through pastry positions, and save and count my pennies to buy chocolate machinery on a pastry chefs salary. I get help from friends and people who see the opportunity and my passion for chocolate and ethical sourcing. I start working for a local Direct Trade coffee company called Rosso Coffee Roasters, and still work with them today.
Last year we received three gold awards from the ICA for our 70% Tumaco Columbia Bar. This year I participated in the first ever Winter Chocolate Festival in Canada. The future is bright, and full of chocolate.
I think my little story is an important one to tell, because the road to where you want to be is not evenly paved, and there’s no real correct way of getting there. Most importantly I think it needs to be stated that my driving force behind all of this was the need for sustainable and ethical cacao farming. One small documentary changed the entire course of this past 7 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Vfbv6hNeng
Power to the people.