Forum Activity for @Wendy Buckner

Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
02/22/12 11:45:30PM
35 posts

How does one make a living in the chocolate business?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Thank you for asking this question! I too started my business in 2008. This has been the hardest thing I have ever done...because I am an artist...not a business person...but I sure have learned a lot! I appreciate hearing what everyone has contributed because I am SO ready to step out of production and start making money. I have spent most of my time getting the business started over the last 3 years...very long hours...making mostly all of my product myself (until recently hiring a small staff), trying to sell and reach out to new customers, dealing with most customers face to face... I joke about how I have aged myself 10 years in 3. I am a very hard worker...and it is really hard for me to turn over my recipes and techniques to others, although I am extremely grateful for help! It has been 6 months since I hired my staff and things are getting easier...but I have a really long way to go! I poured my life into the business...and I feel like it owes me something now. I'm ready to grow and get my life back! I will NEVER give up working with chocolate! It is my passion and I have no desire to work with anything else...but I want to be able to enjoy life too... SO, I too, am eager to hear more responses from others of how they "did it". ;) I love my shop, we are doing really well and I believe in our products. I have faith that all of my (and my husband's) work will pay off. Any suggestions and advice are much appreciated. Sometimes I feel like I need a coach...or a consultant... Don't you sometimes just wish that someone would just tell you what your next move should be? (SIGHhhhhhhhh) I do enjoy the challenge... but I want to bring home the bacon sometime soon! Clay, Brad, and Mimi...I LOVE hearing your thoughts! I wish Daniel luck in success as well! ~Wendy

Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/05/11 12:40:52AM
35 posts

Sculpting Chocolate - Any Advice?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi Janice! It is completely avoidable... You should check out the Sculpting with Chocolate Group! There are many ways to make chocolate decorations without using chocolate plastique. I make many chocolate decorations myself and refuse to use plastique. You may want to check out a book by Jean-Pierre Wybauw called "Chocolate Decorations". Chef Wybauw has a lot of helpful tips. I'm happy to help out how I can as well.

~Wendy

Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/01/11 01:46:19AM
35 posts

The Perfect Chocolate Kitchen ...


Posted in: Opinion

I agree, I would be nowhere with out my Craftsman Tool Chest. Other kitchen essentials for me have been a granite stone or countertop. I have a tempering machine for each chocolate, milk, dark, and white. Also an enrober, shaker table, Craftsman tool cart with a small ACMC tempering machine on it so I can move it to whatever station I need to use it at, for detail work. Retractable Outlets hanging from the ceiling have helped a lot. I can plug up anything where ever I need it. Multiple speed racks, shelves, and stainless work tables. Windows for customers to see into the kitchen are important to me....and really good temperature control. I have a packing station that holds all of my packaging and has a large surface on top to work on packaging. Impact floor mats, and an airbrush station. Wow! I was all over the place with that! Hope it helps! ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/31/11 12:49:35AM
35 posts

Chocolate Artist Software/Printer


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I tried this system for a while. We bought our own printer and ink from kopy kake. We made our own templates and ordered the sheets from Tomric. The molds are pretty expensive, so we only had a few to work with at a time. Our main issue was that the transfers didn't work very well. We spoke to Tomric repetitively about our issues, tried everything that they said we should try...and it never worked well at all. It was a lot of wasted time and money. Wasted transfer sheets that didn't transfer well. We tried everything. In fact...the first package of sheets we ordered worked much better than the second package...I don't know if they changed them...but it was horrible. I did not try what Robyn did and airbrush the sheets with white cocoa butter before using...that could have helped...maybe. But I was VERY unhappy with the system. It was a super cool idea...but we had to put SO much work into it to get each order completed. We decided to not offer it anymore. **We also had the printer get stopped up a couple of times if we didn't use it for a week or so. It was a pain! I wish I had better things to say about it...but I do not recommend it at all...unless Robyn has the secret trick of airbrushing the sheets. I was also unhappy to find that the sheets were not cocoa butter sheets to print on...they were sugar based. I don't have them near to give the ingredients...but true transfer sheets are made from cocoa butter...so I think that was why I had so many problems with them working as well. I love Tomric products...except for this one.
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
02/06/11 02:24:06AM
35 posts

Interesting Visitors....


Posted in: Opinion

You should be proud Brad! And....all the people who argue or complain are just jealous or showing off by trying to "one up" you. So happy you are back on here... maybe I'll check in more frequently now. :) You are a good guy... everyone should appreciate your advice. ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
02/06/11 03:05:25AM
35 posts

What's on YOUR chocolate bucket list?


Posted in: Travels & Adventures

Well...there are so many things I want to do! Places to go, things to make, Chocolatiers to meet... But...the dorky side of me cant wait to visit the Chocolate amusement park in Amsterdam...if it ever opens! :)
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
11/16/10 12:05:40AM
35 posts

Which Ingredient Used in additional amount to increase chocolate taste and Health


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I'm hooked on Medjool Dates dipped in Dark chocolate...be sure to pit them first! :)
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
08/22/10 01:25:50AM
35 posts

Chocolate/Confectionery Stores


Posted in: Travels & Adventures

I used to live in Iowa City... Bochner's Chocolate was really good. Chocolatier Blue just opened a new location at 4101 Pioneer Woods Dr. in Lincoln, NE... Very good chocolates! Not sure about chocolates in Minnesota but one of the most amazing Pastry Chefs I know and had the pleasure of learning from just opened Patisserie 46 in Minneapolis. Worth checking out! Hope this helps!!! ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
08/07/10 01:23:22PM
35 posts

Has anyone attempted flavoring their chocolates with beer?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi Michelle, we make a couple of beer truffles...Reducing works well. We have our local brewery fill up a growler and bring it back to the shop...cook it down and use the syrup it makes. We make a Stout, a lighter wheat beer one, and we have even made Budweiser ones for a Bud Rep. who is in town...topped it with pretzel pieces...it was a huge hit! I enjoy experimenting with it...and customers LOVE them! Good luck and best wishes with your "new" home! Long ways from Nashville!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
08/09/10 07:24:02PM
35 posts

How Did You Choose Your Market Location


Posted in: Chocolate Education

Hey Jeff! We have a retail shop and are about to move to another location where we will have more space and visibility. We plan on serving pastries along with our chocolates to help out with our horrible heat waves. I do some wholesaling... to other local businesses but hope to start doing more of that. Gelato sounds nice! It is really popular now! Ice cream/gelato seem to always be a draw around here, as long as the location is right and convenient for customers. Wouldn't be as tough as adding pastries like we plan to do...we will have to have 2 kitchens...one for chocolate and one for baking. Can't have flour and heat in the same room with the chocolate. Could cause many problems.Let me know if you have anymore questions.... ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
07/27/10 12:02:54AM
35 posts

How Did You Choose Your Market Location


Posted in: Chocolate Education

Hey Jeff! I started my shop in my home town. Seemed like a good choice for me because we were traveling so much to visit home and family when we lived in other cities...so we decided to come home. Luckily there wasn't a lot of competition here...seems harder to get people to "understand" good chocolate here in the southeast (or at least our area)...Plus it is really humid and hot...summers are very slow for a chocolate business. But I think anywhere you go will have it's ups and downs. You just have to make it work for you. If you have a good product, people will come. Good luck! Happy to help however I can...if I can!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
08/15/10 11:44:17PM
35 posts

compressed air?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Oooo...That is a smart suggestion! Nice thinking!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
07/06/10 11:54:08AM
35 posts

Suggestions for wedding chocolate tastings??


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Thanks Matt! Wonderful!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
07/03/10 07:18:24PM
35 posts

Suggestions for wedding chocolate tastings??


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hey Matt! Thanks! My favorite chocolate for the time being is Amedei's Porcelana 70% Dark...I'd love a few tips. Thank you!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
06/30/10 07:21:41PM
35 posts

Suggestions for wedding chocolate tastings??


Posted in: Tasting Notes

We are hoping to start having tastings for bridal parties to help generate more wedding favor sales. Does anyone have any experience doing this and have any suggestions you are willing to share? Thanks!
updated by @Wendy Buckner: 05/05/15 10:16:49PM
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/25/10 01:53:23AM
35 posts

Are "chocolate jams" shelf stable?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Thank you SO much Danielle! I will do this and let you know what they tell me. I really hope that this is a product that I can start making because it is so wonderful! I still have a lot to learn about canning though! Thanks again! ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/24/10 09:34:54PM
35 posts

Are "chocolate jams" shelf stable?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I recently made a "chocolate dipped strawberry jam" just as you would any other jam with the addition of some 72% dark chocolate and lots of lemon juice to increase acidity. It worked really nicely and it is very good, but I want to make sure that it is shelf stabile. I don't want to sell it unless I know it is safe. I know that chocolate sauces do not have a good shelf life and so I hope that that this jam will not have these same issues. Does anyone know how to find this information out? Thanks for any suggestions! ~Wendy
updated by @Wendy Buckner: 05/01/15 08:15:15PM
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/25/10 12:44:16AM
35 posts

Looking for monogram script molds.


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi there Kayla! I bought plain 2" x 2" square molds from CK Products and I pipe all of my monogrammed chocolate squares by hand. I always practice a few times on parchment paper before I pipe onto the squares. It really isn't hard to do at all. They can look very beautiful this way. I haven't seen monogrammed square molds anywhere. Good luck! ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/15/10 03:36:27PM
35 posts

Belgium Chocolate Tour ideas


Posted in: Travels & Adventures

Hi there Jeff! I just turned in my grant proposal for this trip! I really appreciate your advice! It was a huge help for me! Now that I have that under my belt...I will patiently wait to hear if I get to go there or not. If I don't get the grant...atleast I have a nice itinerary planned for when I can save up enough money to go. Thanks again! Please let me know if I can ever help you in any way! ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/11/10 02:06:48PM
35 posts

Colored Cocoa Butters from ChefRubber


Posted in: Opinion

Hey Kerry! I am with Clay...Thanks for posting the forum. It helps a lot! I love how you can talk to anyone for information...and it seems that everyone has a different useful tip. It could be the smallest thing that makes a huge difference for me! I appreciate it!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/01/10 02:27:11PM
35 posts

Colored Cocoa Butters from ChefRubber


Posted in: Opinion

Hey George! Like Ruth said...I too have had a LOT of failures when we first attempted to use colored cocoa butter for our molds. You just have to keep trying. We airbrush some of our molds...it took us quite a while to get all of the tools and things necessary to make our airbrush food safe and then learning to do it was a messy but fun thing to play with. I also do some molds with a toothbrush... by flicking the bristles. (That is when I just don't want to use the airbrush) and then I do some by finger painting... with gloves of course... basically smearing the colored cocoa butter inside each cavity. I have had great luck with chef rubber colored cocoa butters. We use the artisan collection (primary colors, black, and white)...but will start making my own colored cocoa butter soon because we always blend our colors anyway. Chef Rubber is a great source to use for many tools and ingredients.
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/04/10 01:23:44AM
35 posts

Shows


Posted in: Opinion

HA HA! That is great! I went to the Philadelphia Candy Show a few years ago before we opened our shop. It was ok. I did see a lot, and learn a lot... We saw tons of packaging and other manufacturers. I remember seeing Hilliard's Chocolate Systems, Savage Brothers, Callebaut, Guittard, Cargill, Tomric, etc... Lots of samples... It was a good place to go to familiarize ourselves with other companies out there. I would like to try the Retail Confectioners International Convention... but I am sure that which ever one you decide to go to...you will see lots and get some great info. and ideas. Try to look at the list of vendors to see who will be there this year. That may help you decide. ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/22/10 02:28:00AM
35 posts

Selling at farmer's markets... in the heat of summer?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi llana! Craigslist is a website used for posting classifieds and forums... Not sure it is used much in Israel. http://telaviv.craigslist.org/ I use it to look for used equipment in other cities in America... It is great for posting things for sale, or to post things that you are looking for. People even post homes and cars for sale.
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
04/30/10 01:20:56PM
35 posts

Selling at farmer's markets... in the heat of summer?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Good idea. My gears are turning. I will have to think about this for a while. Seems like we could really make something perfect for pretty cheap. I love to "MacGyver" new tools. My husband always says that we are in the wrong business...the people who make the equipment for chocolatiers are the ones making the money! Everything is SO expensive!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
04/30/10 12:43:28PM
35 posts

Selling at farmer's markets... in the heat of summer?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hey Cheebs! That is really nice! You built this? You could sell these like crazy! I have had to find the most inexpensive ways to do farmer's markets... I tell everyone that visits our booth to come to our shop...for the finer things that we create...it usually works. But maybe one day I could splurge and have this as an option. It looks very impressive. Thanks for the suggestion of thermoelestric coolers too! I actually have never seen one of these. When we decided to start doing farmer's markets...we toyed with the idea of getting a small wine cooler. But decided that it would be open and closed so much it wouldn't work. I will keep this in mind if I ever decide to change how we do things.
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
04/30/10 11:40:22AM
35 posts

Selling at farmer's markets... in the heat of summer?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Another thing about sampling...My husband reminded me about how Fudge shops are known for giving samples. Oh the many times I have seen people stop by for the sample and not buy while on vacation to tourist towns...Gatlinburg, TN, the Atlantic City Boardwalk...etc. I wonder how much is actually given away. There is a small Fudge shop here where we live and they display a huge sign in the window boasting "FREE TASTE". I can't help from picturing a giant block of fudge inside...like a salt lick, for the customers to go in and take a nice big taste...or lick. Shoo dee doo. I blame them along with Costco for the "freebie hunters". They have lost their appreciation for the finer things...and I think it is pretty inconsiderate to always ask a small business for free samples! Owning a business is tough...and Very expensive! Somebody has to pay for all those samples! Ha Ha! Sorry to go on about this! Sampling is a difficult subject.
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
04/30/10 01:23:01AM
35 posts

Selling at farmer's markets... in the heat of summer?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Just found this discussion. I do farmers markets throughout the summer. It is a great way to keep money coming in during the slowest time of the year. I have a shop, so most of the people who come visit us at the market know what I do in my shop and if they don't know us I can tell them about it. At the farmers market, We do things that we do not do in our shop. We do "festival type" things like frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, chocolate dipped strawberry kabobs, our own version of frozen hot chocolate, etc. Things you can walk around with and eat... Our customers love it and they know to go to the market to get these things...made fresh right in front of them. On cooler days we do an amazing hot chocolate, caramel apples, and we will then start bringing in products from our shop...candy bars, chocolate covered nuts, mendiants, etc. It keeps me from having to deal with melting so much. It seems to keep customers coming back to see what's new too...because we will dip fresh fruits that are in season. A bag of fresh blackberries in white chocolate, raspberries in dark, or dark chocolate figs...etc. I love the market. I love the comments on sampling too! I like the idea of sampling ganache...a lot of people don't quite understand what all goes into making truffles. I never sample them...and I have really quit sampling just about anything. I had a lady last week at the market get mad at me for not sampling to her...but she was the only one who asked for a sample. Everyone else seemed excited to BUY something. I was so happy to hear about the lady that ate cat food mentioned earlier! That is awesome! You don't get samples of food you are ordering at a restaurant...you cant just sample any product at Walmart...but I agree with Elena...it is a Costco or Sams syndrome that people have. It drives me crazy! What we do is so specialized...I just can't give it away anymore. I have been burned by doing that in the past. People stop coming to buy things and come for samples...even other vendors started coming at the end of the day to see what I had left over after I gave out fresh berries that had been dipped in chocolate that didn't sell. It was upsetting. They buy them now because they love them! I do give the other vendors a small discount now...it is like a big family...If you do stick to selling your chocolates throughout the summer, I think Elena has some great tips!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
04/30/10 12:37:37AM
35 posts

Working Chocolatier Q&A


Posted in: Opinion

What a great concept. I just found this stream and have really enjoyed your comments. Great video you posted as well. I am starting to understand your business now. Truffles made per order while the customer waits...with chocolate you made...that is incredibly fresh and you are the first I have seen do this. You need to write a book...or have you?
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
04/24/10 01:39:42PM
35 posts

Custom Chocolate Molds


Posted in: Classifieds

Hey there Brian! I use this stuff to help with odd jobs. Knead-a-mold.I have had to use it for sculpture pieces and also if a customer wants a certain form made into chocolate. Last I used it for sculpting a chocolate hippo for someone...they had the shape they wanted, a small wooden carved hippo and then I made a 3-D mold from that form. It is so easy to use! It is a good thing to have on hand.Also, I know someone who has a vac-u-form machine and can make plastic molds from shapes. Let me know if you need their contact info! Both of these sources are in Chattanooga, TN...where I am from. If the link doesn't work for knead-a-mold...you can look it up at www.townsendatelier.com
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
01/27/10 02:34:03PM
35 posts

My First Valentine's!


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hey Andre! This is my second Valentine's Day. Last year I learned that it is very much a last minute Holiday for us. Most everyone came the week of Valentine's Day. We also learned to have things like baskets or sampler boxes of truffles made up because a lot of the shoppers wanted very easy gifts. They liked coming in and picking up the big pretty baskets or boxes instead of choosing truffles to have us box for them. Then there are the little packaged chocolates for those customers who want just a little something to give friends. We sold a lot of those too! I like what Sarah said...if you run out you run out. Be ready to start cranking out Easter Bunnies like crazy! ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
02/05/10 10:20:29PM
35 posts

Local Regulations for opening a Chocolate Shop. Kitchen- Yes or No?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hello there! I am not sure of the codes and regulations in your state but I have dealt with this before. It is a kitchen...but it's a manufacturing kitchen. Chocolate shops are looked at differently than typical restaurant kitchens. We are not inspected by the Department of Health, but we are inspected by the Department of Agriculture. I got the best information when I was trying to figure all of this out when I called the Department of Agriculture and spoke to them directly. We did have to seal the walls with high gloss paint and seal the concrete floor. We did have to purchase and install a grease trap, 3 compartment sink, hand sinks (in the kitchen and the retail shop), mop sink, and install a K Fire Extinguisher...which is for grease fires...but the Fire Marshall made us get it even though we don't cook with any grease! I had a difficult time with this as well...but atleast you have had SO many great responses from other Chocolatiers! Wish I had been a part of this when we were opening our shop!
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/29/10 05:45:31PM
35 posts

Has anyone used the NETZSCH chocolate machines?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Much appreciated Brad! Thanks! ~Wendy
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
04/30/10 02:10:00PM
35 posts

American, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers: A Complete List


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Sorry my link didn't attach.... they are: www.frenchbroadchocolates.com Click on their newsletter link and scroll down until you see "Seed to Bar" .
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
04/30/10 01:14:59PM
35 posts

American, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers: A Complete List


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Just heard of another possible bean-to-bar in the makes. I have heard great things about this shop in Asheville, NC. Haven't been there though. They mention their plans in the newsletter link on their site. Can't wait to try!So, is this the new trend in shops? I would love to "make" my own chocolate too....but for now I am certainly happy to be the chocolatier that I am. I want to master one thing before moving to the next. I guess I could go back to the thread on "re-melters"...but I worry that us small artisan fonduers will increasingly become "frowned upon" for not making our own chocolate. I guess it all depends on what chocolate you use, right? ...and how we use it...
Wendy Buckner
@Wendy Buckner
05/28/10 11:48:09PM
35 posts

What are your favorite adult beverages to pair with chocolates?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

We make an Oatmeal Stout Truffle with 72% dark chocolate and a locally brewed Oatmeal Stout Beer. We top it with crushed rolled oats. It has been extremely popular! We started making another beer truffle due to the popularity of the Oatmeal Stout Truffle. The same brewhouse makes a Belgian White Beer... it is a lighter wheat beer with citrus notes. We make the truffle with Belgian white chocolate and add the beer and our spices... coriander and anise, even some cracked grains of paradise to spice it up a bit. Then dip it into 55% dark chocolate and top it with more freshly ground coriander and a sliver of candied orange peel. It is a little more complicated to make, but WONDERFUL! They are flying out the door! We may end up pairing a truffle with other beers the brewhouse makes. They serve them in a box of two as a dessert on their menu. It has been a great thing!