What is a maitre chocolatier and the skills you need?

14 Apr 2021

Chocolate Knowledge

Fancy yourself as a chocolate connoisseur? See if you’ve got what it takes to be a Maitre Chocolatier

At Hotel Chocolat, we love every moment of the chocolate journey, from roots to wrapper. Each step of the way, care and attention go into crafting cacao-rich treats to delight the senses. We like to think that the passion and adoration we share for chocolate artistry shines through all elements of our Chocolate Collection.

Our chocolates start life in verdant rainforests across the world. Cacao plants love the warm climate near the equator, which is why we also grow some of our beans on our Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia. Our dedicated cacao farmers nurture the plants and prepare the beans for us. After we transform the cacao beans into sumptuous bars, our talented chocolatiers design and sculpt the slabs into the enchanting works of art you unwrap at home.

What does a maitre chocolatier do?

From the French term for ‘master,’ a maitre chocolatier is a highly trained expert in all things chocolate.

Yes, chocolate is a tasty snack that can be wolfed down in seconds. But it has the potential to be so much more. Don’t confuse chocolatiers with chocolate-makers. Makers buy, roast, and process cacao beans into large chocolate bars (or ‘couverture’) that they then send to chocolatiers.

Once the couverture arrives, it’s the maitres chocolatiers that unleash their creativity upon the chocolate. They melt the couverture and experiment. Using a variety of flavours, colours, and textures, they elevate it into something visually, aromatically, and deliciously exceptional.

Though a maitre chocolatier doesn’t grow the cacao or make the chocolate, they have a deep understanding of the process from bean to bar. This appreciation for the alchemy that goes into producing chocolate enables them to recognise the unique flavour properties of different cacao beans. They can make the most of the different bean types to create incredible confectionery.

Chocolatiers are behind our sweet Patisserie Chocolate inspired by best-loved cakes and bakes and our Liqueur Chocolate that packs an invigorating punch. They know how to combine flavours in the perfect ratios and develop innovative and tantalising new recipes. They also understand the importance of the cacao percentage in each creation.

What skills do you need for the job?

Maitre chocolatiers are experts who often have decades of training under their belts. Many study culinary arts or complete traditional apprenticeships as pastry chefs or confectioners. This experience helps them hone specialised technical skills in tempering, moulding, piping, and knowing which fancy tools to use.

Becoming a maitre requires dedication and a desire to keep learning about the magic of chocolate. Many continue evolving their skills by attending regular workshops and studying new techniques and trends.

As well as knowing the best ways to melt, mix, and chop chocolate, maitre chocolatiers have endless creativity. A keen eye for detail allows them to come up with original designs, patterns, and structures. From rustic Fruit and Nut Slabs packed with a variety of textures and aromas to elegant pink Champagne Truffles that draw the eye and melt in the mouth, their creations bring all the senses together.

Curiosity is key, too. Maitre chocolatiers aren’t afraid to experiment and try things out. Drawing from their experience and skill, they can use their intuition to see which flavours and textures pair well.

Difference between a maitre and a chocolatier

Chocolatiers and maitre chocolatiers carry out many of the same tasks. However, some say that a chocolatier only becomes a maitre once they’ve truly ‘mastered’ the artistry of chocolate. That, of course, is a difficult thing to define. Can you measure artistry?

Every three years, The World Chocolate Masters competition aims to do just that. Chocolatier artisans from around the world share their chocolate talent and compete to push their creativity to the max.

Also, the term ‘chocolatier’ is generally a little broader than ‘maitre’. In some smaller companies, chocolatiers may have more of an involvement in the chocolate-making process than maitres.

Get involved

If you’d like to gain more insight into the world of the chocolatier, our Bean to Bar Experience offers an introduction to the noble art of chocolate making. Guided by one of our delightful chocolatiers, who’ll show you how to roast and conch cacao, you’ll make your own bespoke chocolate bar.

The chocolate industry is a collaborative one. At Hotel Chocolat, we are proud to work with cacao farmers in our Engaged Ethics program. Closer to home, our team of dedicated chocolatiers share ideas in our Cambridgeshire Inventing Room. As much as our chocolatiers embrace every opportunity to taste new offerings — talk about perks of the job — we also love hearing what our customers think.

That’s why, each week, our chocolatiers test out brand new recipes and choose the most exciting ones to go into our Inventing Room Subscription boxes. Inventing Room subscribers score the new treats and decide which ones make it onto our shelves. Pretty neat, huh?

We’re biased, of course, but we believe chocolatiers and maitre chocolatiers have some of the best jobs going. We’re proud of our talented chocolatier team for continuing to create additions for our Chocolate Collection and can’t wait to see what they come up with next.