Conestoga news

April 24, 2013 3:20 PM

Conestoga student learns the science of chocolate

Thinking of chocolate as a series of chemicals and molecules might not be the way most people see the sweet treat. But for Greg Williams, a culinary student at Conestoga, it is the science of chocolate that gets him every time.

Williams, along with several Conestoga students, recently competed in the Canadian Intercollegiate Chocolate Competition at Humber College on April 14th. Students from nine colleges in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario came together for the two-day competition, which involved students constructing one-metre tall chocolate sculptures and preparing a variety of bonbons and plated desserts.

Williams said his desire to work with chocolate started with an explanation by Evelyn McManus, an instructor in the Culinary Management program at Conestoga.

“It was the way Chef Evelyn explained how to temper chocolate,” he said. “Reaching a certain temperature so the molecules align, making the chocolate shiny and structurally strong.” Chocolate.jpg

A former University of Waterloo chemistry student, Williams said that the science of chocolate just made sense to him.

“Having graduated from the chemistry faculty at the University of Waterloo, I understood the way in which Chef Evelyn was explaining what was happening with the chocolate.”

Working with chocolate also involves a lot of patience, and students are required to put in additional time in the kitchen to perfect the craft.

“Students who work with chocolate have to really want to learn,” said McManus. “We try to train for 6 to 8 hours each week in addition to their other courses.”

McManus said that students must master a variety of skills when it comes to working with the confection.

“Students need to learn to temper chocolate, dip chocolate, mould chocolate, make fillings and learn how to make cream and butter ganaches,” said McManus. “They also need to understand how to bake, make pastry and find ways to add a new molecular cuisine element to the dishes.”

Williams said that the culinary program at Conestoga helped him discover the possibilities when working with chocolate.

“I came to the culinary program because I love making soups and working with flavours,” he explained. “But this experience has taught me that chocolate is just another medium to showcase flavours.”

Williams credits the culinary program with exposing him to many aspects of cooking and restaurant management, and said that the school has prepared him for his future career.

“After I am done school, I am going to work in a café, focusing on my love of soups…and now, chocolate!”

Conestoga offers a variety of culinary programs at both the certificate and diploma level. Students also have the option of co-op programs in culinary management or chef training. Visit the website for more information.