This content is from my earlier blog post.
For the curious, here is a bit of my story. I learned to appreciate good food and cooking early in life. My parents aspired to a suburban lifestyle though they are country at heart. My childhood was a mashup of suburban and rural life around Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia. I could be found pulling peanuts, shelling peas, climbing peach trees to find a perfect peach, cooking with my mom and her mom, or at the midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Preserving summer produce, baking, Sunday dinners with four generations, there was a lot of cooking with my family. My mother enjoyed baking and established her own shop later in life. Her mother was a professional cook as well. And her mother, while not professional, was well known for good food. I learned to appreciate fresh food and well cooked food from an early age.
At Georgia Tech I began studies in architecture and history and I spent a year in Paris, France. It was in Paris that I discovered fine pastry and chocolate, and an urbane culture in an ancient city. Pastry and architecture, science and art, history, these became lifelong hobbies for me. In 2009, while struggling like many others, I dove into pastry classes at City College San Francisco. Doors opened for me. I was granted an internship at San Francisco Baking Institute with Michel Suas and his team. Then joining Michael Recchiuti's team, I worked with him and Amanda Snouffer for five years, fine tuning my knowledge and technique in chocolate work.
I continue to travel and study. European chocolatiers have much to offer and my time spent studying with Europeans is valuable. Picasso advised us to know the foundation rules before we break them. Here in the states however, we are forming a new culture in chocolate, the Bean to Bar movement. In dialogue with cacao farmers and artisan chocolate makers, I gain more insight into the fragility of cacao, and the complexities of chocolate. Chocolate is entwined with humanity, from the farmer to you, from the Easter Bunny to issues of forced labor. My goal is to create experiences with chocolate that are delicious, enlightening, and soulful as well. Let's explore.