This is a question we get asked every day. And who better to answer than someone on our Production team? Our chocolate makers are, without a doubt, the backbone of Dandelion Chocolate, and crafting two-ingredient chocolate is not easy. Being part of the team involves a combination of skill, science, problem solving, artistry, and passion. We sat down to chat with Ken, who just started as an Apprentice Chocolate Maker this June.
Hi Ken, what’s the first thing you do when you walk in the door for work each day?
I check the whiteboard, then check in with my partner / lead for the day. And if we’re sorting [beans], I always check in with the roaster.
Why work at a chocolate factory, and specifically Dandelion?
One big drive was wanting to be a part of making the magic. My first impression while studying at the Culinary Institute of America was that Dandelion Chocolate held industry and international respect and standards, and is a leader in craft chocolate — they make exceptional chocolate. This caught my attention.
Any unexpected surprises of the job?
What I didn’t expect was how unique each day to day is, and how un-“factory“ everything we do is. Things are constantly adjusted and intuitively set right — from recommended machine settings to scheduling to improving efficiency.
What do you love most working as an Apprentice Chocolate Maker?
So much …
The entire Production team has been so kind and supportive; truly unrivaled as far as [being] inclusive, fair, and overall a great balance of learning, challenge, and goal striving, while having fun. I love seeing how all the chocolate makers clearly think very differently, but with experience, have found what’s fundamental. Plus, learning, supporting change and growth, is part of production. I’m blessed to be joining at a time when Dandelion Chocolate has established core values, culture, and systems … small but big, or big yet small.
Sounds like a great fit!
Yes, I’ve found the most satisfying joy and fulfillment finding my part within a team that drives individually, and yet at the same time, works as a team towards greatness.
Another question that we get asked a lot — do you smell like chocolate when you go home?
My brother says I do. Chocolate lingers long after I clock out on two spots: my hat, and grip tape.
What’s your current favorite bar?
It’s close between Zorzal Comunitario and Hacienda Azul, Costa Rica. They both share a gentle, lighter bright first note that carries, and isn’t as intensely overwhelming to me. They are well rounded, delicate, and clean, yet both do coax “jammy / roasty” Maillard complexity.