For over 25 years the pastry and chocolate school has been teaching chefs-in-training, specific technical skills. In 2014, they decided to bring their expertise closer to home by opening their Brooklyn school, which is the company’s first U.S. chocolate school outpost.
Now chefs and chocolatiers can take a trip over to DUMBO, Brooklyn for a chance to not only indulge in tasty treats, but also learn the ins and outs of how to create them. The location offers classes for all skill levels in a professional kitchen setting. The expansive Valrhona kitchen shimmers with stainless steel and features endless granite counter space, so there’s plenty of room for students to learn.
“We are here to enjoy working with chocolate, being friendly, and spending good time around pastries,” Marine Leman, senior communications manager at Valrhona, said. “Our job is to share emotions, knowledge, and techniques.”
The classes help students discover how to cook and bake with the high-quality Valrhona chocolate by making cakes, cookies, pastries, and more. In addition to that, there are private event options that are perfect for corporate entertaining, team building activities, parties, and anything else one could think about.
Working with chocolate can be quite a challenge for beginners, but Valrhona works hard to ensure that the teaching methods are friendly and relatable, using images and explanations that are already familiar. The small, 10-12 person class size helps students understand lessons even better.
Due to the fact that most of the Valrhona students come to the class already possessing an interest and love for chocolate Leman said their curriculum focuses on the taste of the chocolate rather than garnering interest.
“We don’t simplify,” Leman said “(Students) are already interested when they come, but we focus much more on the taste. Technique is just the way to express (ourselves), not a finality. It’s not necessary to be super complicated to be good and tasty.”
Valrhona prides itself on creating fine chocolate; therefore, at the school, students learn how to use and enhance the product. The classes involve numerous recipes that are replicable at home and also more complex and technical topics. The chocolate for each recipe is adapted specifically for optimal taste.
Instructors utilize drawings, images and comparisons to teach their craft, making the techniques simpler to understand. From double chocolate banana bread to bon bons, cookies, bars and cakes the chocolate opportunities are endless from inside the classroom at Valrhona. Their website also lists tons of recipes for these products, but it is a lot more fun and rewarding to learn how to create them in a class, so you can make the delicacies whenever you want.
“Home bakers come here to enjoy working with chocolate at a ‘chocolate’s maker school’ and to discover what could be the professional world,” Leman said. “As we teach classes for professionals, we have the material, the knowledge and the expertise in chocolate.
As a more unique offering, Valrhona’s pristine and state-of-the-art kitchen is also open for private events like corporate team building, entertaining and holiday parties. While lots of businesses offer team building classes around the city, nothing quite compares getting your hands dirty to make fine chocolates with your colleagues.
While the experience of one of their private classes will cost you a pretty penny, it will be worth it when you are learning from a master chocolatier, leaving with a deeper understanding of chocolate. In every class, Valrhona stresses the importance of understanding that there are many different varieties and types of chocolate.
“So there is not only one dark chocolate but as many as there are variety of cocoa…talking about chocolate with percentage only would be as reducing as talking about grand cru wine with alcohol percentage only,” said Leman. “Then they acquire the specific techniques of the dessert made on that specific class. We try to cover an extensive range of techniques and to focus on few techniques every time to be sure everybody understands it well.”
For those who are well versed in the craft of making chocolate, Valrhona also offers “The Art of Tasting” to help chocolate lovers experience chocolate on top of enjoying it. This experience teaches the sight, smell, hearing and taste involved with understanding the quality of a bar of Grand Chocolat.
If you are itching to become a master chocolatier, Valrhona is waiting for you to experience one of their programs.
“The main advantage is that we offer a hands-on experience by the masters of chocolate,” Leman said.
Valrhona’s goal through its products and classes is to “provide the love of chocolate all over the world!”