How to become a chocolatier

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James Adams is a chocolatier, crafting a range of deliciously tempting handmade chocolates every day. He starts work early to supply one of Yorkshire's most famous tea rooms.

What sort of things do you make?

I handcraft all sorts of chocolates – from mixed selections of handmade chocolates to novelties for children. There are only six of us in the team of chocolatiers, so we all have to be able to make our entire chocolate range. I might make fillings for chocolates such as praline, caramel and truffle, or hand decorate chocolates and seasonal specialities such as Easter eggs.

What else does your job as a chocolatier involve?

I also help to train new employees. We are very committed to traditional craft skills and the art of chocolate making – all of our ranges our handmade. These skills have to be carefully passed on.

Does chocolate making require special equipment?

We have three tempering machines – each for milk, white and dark chocolate. Tempering brings out the best in chocolate and puts it at the perfect temperature to work with. Melting tanks are used to melt the chocolate. I use lots of different shaped moulds and for chocolate fillings, we use a vacuum mixer to make sure they are really smooth.

How did you become a chocolatier?

Honestly, I came across it accidentally. Although I enjoy eating chocolate, I never planned to become a chocolatier. I joined as a temporary worker in the packing department and grabbed the opportunity when it arose.

What training do you need to become a chocolatier?

It is mostly on-the-job training. Basic brush skills come first – like painting 'fur' onto chocolate bears. Piping intricate designs onto Easter eggs is a more advanced skill. My trainer teaches me the skills and ticks off each competency once I have achieved the required level of skill.

What do you like about your job?

It is creative and interesting. It is rewarding to know that people really enjoy our products. There is a good team environment too.

What kind of person makes a good chocolatier?

Someone with patience and commitment. It takes a lot of time and attention to detail to make good quality chocolates. It also takes a long time to learn all the different skills.

What are your ambitions?

I would like to be a team leader and master all the skills so that I can be recognised as a 'master chocolatier'. I would also like to do some overseas training – perhaps in Switzerland or Belgium, countries famous for producing chocolate.

James's route to becoming a chocolatier

  • GCSEs.
  • In-house Craft Training Levels.

James's tips on how to become a chocolatier

  • Be patient and persevere – you can then master most things.
  • Find a mentor wherever you are working – it is someone who can help a lot by passing on skills.

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Chocolatier salary

  • A trainee chocolatier would start at £10,000, rising to around £12,000 once the important skills have been mastered.
  • A supervisor or team leader could earn up to £20,000.

How to become a chocolatier

  • Training to become a chocolatier does not depend on academic qualifications, although basic numeracy is helpful for measuring ingredients, calculating cooking times and understanding cooking temperatures.
  • Most craft skills are passed on as part of a company's on-the-job training programme. Some people start by practising other crafts such as cake decorating, and there is a range of NVQ/SVQ qualifications available in this field, such as Sugar Craft and/or Cake Decoration. There is also a NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Patisserie and Confectionery.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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