Episode 11: Pam Williams Founder of Ecole Chocolat

Description: On this episode of Well Tempered - the first podcast focused on chocolate & covering the smart, crafty, and creative women in the industry -  Pam Williams is the featured guest. Most famously known for founding Ecole Chocolat, where she and her team have helped many many people enter the world of chocolate making and becoming/succeeding as a chocolatier through their online courses and in-person events. With over 35 years of experience in the fine chocolate industry, we talk about it myriad topics as well as Pam's innumerable projects centered around fine chocolate and cacao.

Thank you for listening! 

Photo credit: Ecole Chocolat

Photo credit: Ecole Chocolat

Themes discussed in this episode:

  • Difference between chocolate makers and chocolatiers

  • How chocolatiers at Ecole Chocolat are instructed to research cacao origins & chocolate makers (all) for their future/present work

  • Wider range of available 'good chocolate' against when she started as a chocolatier in the 1980s

  • The importance of blends over single origin for chocolatiers recipes; stable/static vs fluid/changing harvest to harvest

  • Paying farmers more - especially starting at the quality level (post-harvest, fermentation, cacao genetics)

  • Pragmatism of running a business; money has to change hands

  • Goal of the book 'Raising the Bar' -- no one knows what the future holds, but Pam hopes that it serves as a guide, and gives her students and readers a pause "to think about what they're doing in relation to what's happening out there, in our segment, the fine chocolate segment"


Related links from episode: 
Dancing Lion Chocolate sources from scratch couverture from various boutique & small batch makers
- Heirloom Cacao Preservation; They are hoping that with this organization they can make a difference for the farmers who are growing great tasting cacao, that the initiative brings better livelihoods to them, that they may continue to provide fine flavored cacao to the market, and most importantly that those trees' seeds are stored and cataloged in a collection (preferably in country) 

What chocolate Pam would take to the Cosmos:
Madre Chocolate's 70% Kona bar; Gini Choobua grows and ferments cacao at Likao Kula - located near Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii
Fruition Chocolate 68% Maranon Canyon Dark Milk
A sipping chocolate such as Valrhona Manjari

...chocolate flavor is very very specific to the individual - the love of that flavor. - Pam Williams

How to donate to HCP (Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund; tax deductible) 
March 2018 farm stay initiative in Hawaii from Ecole Chocolat
Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate on Amazon 
FCIA's recognition of excellence awards, including Pam Williams' 2011 'Outstanding Service to the Industry' awardra

Extra Extra!: 
Find Pam & Ecole Chocolat on Twitter @EcoleChocolat
Instagram @EcoleChocolat 
Facebook @EcoleChocolat
Ecole Chocolat' YouTube Channel

Fact Checking (examples of craft chocolate makers also making confections or providing couverture for others): 

  • French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, NC produces all of their chocolate from the bean (including bars, ice cream, bonbons, and pastries)

  • Soma Chocolatemaker in Toronto, Ontario, Canada creates a wide range of award winning single origin chocolate bars, truffles, bonbons, and ice cream (for their multiple locations and online purchase); their goal is to have everything be their own made-in-house chocolate from the bean. Mostly they use professional couverture for enrobing certain truffles.

  • Map Chocolate (from Episode 7) is an example of a small batch chocolate maker that also makes custom couverture for pastry chefs, chocolatiers & restaurants

  • Lillie Belle Farms in Oregon is an example of an artisan chocolatier and chocolate maker that is interested in one day moving to 100% production from the bean; they've recently invested in a 250kg melangeur (grinder) to assist that transition