TCHO aims to inspire industry professionals, hobby bakers, and chocolate enthusiasts
TCHO (“cho”), a pioneering craft chocolate maker based in Berkeley, Calif., is pleased to launch a new initiative called TCHO Pro to spur innovation and create chocolate-centric recipes, video tutorials and cross-promotional experiences with professional chefs. The program has enlisted a team of both rising stars and established chefs, selected by TCHO’s in-house chocolate experts, to be TCHO Pros: Ethel Koh of Ittoryu Gozu, Jessica Craig of Almond Restaurant, David Rodriguez of Büho Bakery and Russell Jackson of Reverence. In the coming months, TCHO Pros will create video tutorials and recipes. In 2021, as the TCHO Pro program expands, a new “class” of chefs will come on board, creating a network of chocolate enthusiasts from across the food & beverage industry.
The first four chefs to join the program attended a two-day virtual training in October, where they took a deep dive into TCHO’s sourcing and production methods. The chefs also tasted a variety of TCHO chocolate, from 39% cacao to 99% cacao, to better understand how flavors change based on the origin and percentage of cacao. The program was led by Brad Kintzer,chief chocolate maker for TCHO Chocolate and the president of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, and Laura Sweitzer, TCHO Source program director.
TCHO’s unique sustainability model, called TCHO Source, is built on long-term relationships between cacao farmers, cacao scientists, and TCHO. Guided by the company’s shared passion to grow the most delicious cacao possible, TCHO invests in farmers by gifting improved infrastructure, chocolate making equipment and offering industry best pricing for their cacao so that they can earn a better living and consistently produce the best beans year after year.
“Believe it or not, most cacao farmers have never tasted chocolate before–even from their own beans,” said Sweitzer. “With TCHO Source, we are collaborating with farmers to understand, from a deep technical perspective, how what they do on the farm impacts the quality of their chocolate. In turn, we want to educate the chefs who are buying chocolate for their kitchens about the chocolate-making process and expand their creativity.”
The chefs who are participating in the inaugural TCHO Pro program receive a generous supply of TCHO chocolate with which to experiment through the end of the year. Below are brief bios for each chef, along with the first of their recipes inspired by their training.
MEET THE CHEFS
Ethel Koh – Pastry Chef, Ittoryu Gozu – San Francisco Singapore-native Ethel Koh started baking as a hobby while working as a registered nurse. At a crossroads with her career, she took a job at a bakery and soon discovered that baking was her passion. She earned a degree in food business management from the Culinary Institute of America in Singapore, then moved to California to train under Chef Marc Zimmerman at Alexander’s Steakhouse and Pastry Chef Joshua Gaulin at Quince. Koh now incorporates Japanese ingredients with hints of nostalgia into her desserts as pastry chef at Gozu, where she once again works with Chef Zimmerman. Recipe: Chocolate Coffee Caramel Tart (made with TCHO Natural Cocoa Powder & 68% Dark Chocolate)
Why TCHO? “TCHO cares about the quality of the ingredients and the education of their staff, which are two things I really care about as a chef,” said Koh.
Jessica Craig – Pastry Chef, Almond, New York – After graduating from New York Institute of Technology with a Culinary Arts Degree and a BPS in Hospitality Management, Jessica Craig dove right into pastry. She worked with Belgian Master Chef Steven de Bruyn at Garden City Hotel, then honed her skills at various restaurants on Long Island before finding herself at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton. Craig began working as a Pastry Sous Chef in 2008 and ran the dessert program for the Honest Man Restaurant Group until 2013. She went on to work for Altamarea Group, an international airline catering company, and Noho Hospitality with Locanda Verde Restaurant at the Greenwich Hotel. In 2017, she became Executive Pastry Chef at L’Artusi Restaurant in New York, where she oversaw the pastry program for Epicurean Group until moving to Almond, a seasonal, market-driven bistro this summer.
Recipe: Chocolate Pudding (made with TCHO 54% Dark Milk Chocolate)
Why TCHO? “I love working with TCHO because they work closely with their partner farmers and producers to make the highest quality chocolate possible and I really appreciate that,” said Craig.
David Rodriguez – Chef, Owner, Büho Bakery, Nevada City, Calif. – Rodriguez was raised in Southern California, where Mexican cuisine was influential in his life. He earned his Patisserie and Baking certificate at The Le Cordon Bleu program at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. Rodriguez has trained under Chef Michael Cimarusti and Adrian Vasquez at Providence in Los Angeles, Chef Jordan Kahn at XIV by Michael Mina and Michael Mina’s Corporate Chef Lincoln Carson. Rodriguez also helped open Red Medicine with Chef Jordan Kahn, acting as both Pastry and Sous Chef. In 2011, Rodriguez returned to Providence as Executive Pastry Chef, earning a StarChefs Rising Star Pastry Chef Award in 2014. He took a leap of faith and moved to Nevada City in 2019 to open Büho Bakery, where he meticulously makes everything from scratch himself. Recipe: Chocolate Swirl Bread (made with TCHO Natural Cocoa Powder, 81% Dark Chocolate & Roasted Cacao Nibs)
Why TCHO? “At Büho Bakery, my philosophy is to support local businesses, and TCHO happens to support its local community, too. We use local ingredients, like TCHO, and sell our products to local shops. We just love introducing people to TCHO chocolate,” said Rodriquez.
Russell Jackson – Owner, Chef, Reverence, New York – A culinary innovator and a noted African-American chef in California cuisine, Russell Jackson is the owner and chef of Harlem’s fine dining restaurant, Reverence. Following graduation from the California Culinary Academy, Jackson opened his first restaurant, Russell’s, in Los Angeles. In 1999, he moved to San Francisco to head James Beard-nominated Black Cat restaurant. Jackson achieved notoriety and amassed a cult following through his seminal restaurant creation, SubCulture Dining, a radical underground supper-club. SubCulture Dining, known by devotees as SCD, broke culinary boundaries and earned Jackson his reputation as the Dissident Chef. Emerging from the underground scene, Jackson would go on to open Lafitte in San Francisco in 2009. He moved to New York City in 2013 and opened the doors to Reverence in 2019. Jackson has appeared on “SF Chefs,” “Iron Chef America” battling Chef Jose Garces, and in the Food Network Kitchens, competing for the title of Food Network Star, and starring in “Off the Menu” on BravoTV.
Recipe: Blue Corn Hot Cocoa(made with TCHO Drinking Chocolate Crumbles)
Why TCHO?“I’m intrigued by the way TCHO practices good ethics by working closely with cocoa farmers who are growing the actual cacao beans that make chocolate,” said Jackson. “It’s important to me to work with vendors who are transparent and are serious about quality.”