About.com Candy Guide: How did you learn to make chocolate? Did you take classes, apprentice with anyone, study on your own, or do some combination of the above?
Art Pollard: Most of what I learned, I learned through trial and error while I was building and testing my chocolate refiner. I hunted as much information as I could through my local university library and purchased many rare and hard to find books. This helped me along the way. There is a lot of difference, though, between making chocolate on an industrial level for industrial purposes in order to make a fifty-cent candy bar at the lowest possible cost and where I wanted to go. My goal was to produce a bar that was focused entirely on flavor. Here, I was on my own.
Once I had my process nailed down, I went to Europe and studied chocolate making at a confectionary school. Here again, the focus was on industrial manufacture, and so I had to glean what I could from the classes and blaze my own trail. I made many good friends while I was there, some of whom I still keep in touch with.
I also spent time traveling around Europe visiting both chocolate shops and chocolate factories. I found this to be immensely useful from my point of view. One of the things my classes and my research had never taught me was the best ways to deal with the myriad of small problems that crop up when making chocolate on a large scale. There are always things that you never realize until you are right in the thick of it, and by then it is sometimes too late. This knowledge was, I believe, more valuable than when I went to school, since it was practical and incredibly useful.
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