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Architecture to Chocolate: The Metamorphasis

My dad and I and our favorite dessert

I wish I could tell you the usual story. The kind of story where I could tell you I had full family support when I decided to step away from the design world and into the sweet world of chocolate. I’d be lying if I did.

My father, especially, was not at all happy with my departure from my previous architectural profession. The beginning of forming my company was the worst of the comments…. “Five years of college and you want to throw it away and play with chocolate!” Or sometimes, I’d hear this, “You gave away three weeks paid vacation, health and retirement benefits to start this! “. The comment was made even more poignant with a disappointed look towards the floor and the negative head shake. It bothered me, but I had to do it.

I can’t blame my Dad. He knew nothing about ‘fancy chocolates’. Say the word chocolate, and he’d think See’s Candies or Hershey’s. It wasn’t until my mom and dad came to last year’s San Francisco Chocolate Salon did they begin to understand my new profession. They stood there, waiting to talk to me, waiting for the customers to leave. They were standing there for many many minutes. The shift in their perspective was forming. “Wow, so expensive! People pay five dollars for a candy bar! That’s fancy chocolate!”.

And that’s about the best compliment from my Dad yet.

Transferring skill sets. What my Dad had failed to see is how I have applied my past experiences and skills into my new profession. I see art everywhere. There is art in making the chocolates. I am continually streamlining our handmade approach so that nothing is wasted. The rhythm of piping chocolate into the molds; the dance between my assistant and I when we produce the bars. It’s nearly flawless. There is art in the taste of the chocolates. How does the taste of my chocolates stand out from the rest? My answer: the color/flavor wheel. I relate flavors like I relate colors on the color wheel. Flavors can be complimentary (opposing flavors/colors) or flavors can be analogous (similar colors/flavors).

The Genmai bar is an example of complimentary flavors. The creamy and smooth milk chocolate is complimented by the nutty, crunchy, and roasted flavor of the brown rice. The initial taste of the milky chocolate and the nutty crunch of the rice is a great contrast. The Dragon’s Breath bar is an example of analogous flavors. The smokey tea, the roasted sesame seeds, and the spicy red chili all are flavors belonging on the same side of the flavor wheel. These are all warm flavors.

Color wheel as the flavor wheel

Above is an image of a color wheel. Colors opposite each other are known as complimentary colors. Red is opposite to green and therefore complimentary. Analogous colors are colors close to each other, such as orange is to yellow.

The design of my chocolate bar packaging is the most obvious sign of my past background. As you will read from my next posting, large bold, vivid colors from my main architectural inspirations are translated into my tiny chocolate bar packaging.

Nowadays, I get not a single peep from my father. His previous comments have stopped altogether and I he’s warming up to the idea that chocolate can be just as lucrative a career as my past cushy office job. One day, he’ll see what I’ve known all along, that all of my hard work will have it’s own set of rewards.

Watch for my next posting: Chocolate and Architecture: Drawing from Inspirations.

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