Thanks for accepting my request for friendship! It is nice to have an online group of people who really do share the passion for chocolate.
I too have not taken an online course before. The one thing I have heard most about Ecole is that there is alot of reading involved. That takes me back alittle and Iask myself if I will be able to handle the workload, work full time as a nurse and juggle afamily all at the same time.
I am thinking that we will be eating, breathing, and eating chocolate all the while in school....How sweet! lol! Thankfully it only lasts 3 months as compared to 9 months of my nursing school.
I am impressed with your background. It is strange how an uneventful event can be the beginning of a huge change in our lives.
I look foward to walking alongside you on your chocolate journey and thank you for walking with me mine!
I took the Ecole class several years ago, before I had much hands-on experience with chocolate. This is what I remember...
The strong point of the initial on-line class is that you are forced to do lots of web research. This includes exploring some of the history and basic information about chocolate, varieties, what other chocolatiers are doing, who your competition might be, and what you think will distinguish your product. You will research availability and costs of supplies, equipment, and packaging. You will research business models, and write a business plan. You will seek out recipes on-line, and will be provided with recipes in the course. The course itself has a wealth of downloadable information, much of which is useful. The material is mostly well organized, and there is some sharing and cross-learning from other students.
The downside of the course (for someone without much hands-on experience), is that your practical experiments (making ganache, tempering chocolates) are done pretty much blind. You will be given instruction for making ganache, and tempering chocolate (by seeding and tabliering), but alone in the privacy of your own kitchen, it is hard to know what you're doing wrong (or right). A one-time seeding exercise is not terribly useful if you don't have knowledge or a way to assess which of the variables (chocolate temperature, agitation, quality of the seed, ambient temperature and humidity, type of chocolate, etc.) are affecting the outcome. You don't have someone to ask during the course of your experiments. This part of the class can get you started, but in-person instruction and mentoring by a chocolate professional was for me the key to skill development and competency. This initial class was useful for intellectual knowledge of the chocolate arts, but I found it a difficult format in which to learn the practical hands-on skills.
I hope that these dim memories are useful,