We’re excited to welcome Menuism’s new expert on chocolate, Lauren Deitsch! Lauren spends her day dreaming up new chocolate recipes for Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington, VT. Get to know Lauren a little better by reading her interview below, and check out her first lesson on the proper way to store chocolate!
Describe your history with chocolate.
My first memory of chocolate was at the ice cream stand as a child making what I thought was the grandest decision of my life… chocolate or vanilla. The pressure was on. You can probably guess what I chose on that warm summer day! Since then, I enjoyed many a chocolate cone, broke off countless pieces of Kit Kat, and dunked more Oreos that I can remember. However, it wasn’t until studying at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) that I was introduced to fine chocolate.
Its complexity fascinated me, and its flavor lured me in. I wanted to learn everything I could about it. In class, I created everything from delicate chocolate garnishes and cream-based bonbons to caramels and fudge. Then, during my externship, I was blessed with the opportunity to step into the role of chocolatier at a small cafe. There I made about 12–15 different small-batch chocolates by hand on a weekly basis.
Upon graduating from the CIA, I was offered a research and development position at Lake Champlain Chocolates, and I’ve been working with chocolate almost every day since.
What is it about chocolate that keeps you engaged every day?
Working with chocolate is a challenge, and I like to take that challenge head-on. As Ernest Hemingway stated, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” I believe this is true of being a chocolatier: I’m constantly learning, creating, growing, and striving to be better.
The other aspect that keeps me engaged is the knowledge that my creations will positively affect someone’s life. Something I made might become part of someone’s favorite Valentine’s Day memory, or maybe even just the highlight of a trip to the grocery store. That’s all I need to know to have a good day at work.
Are there any misconceptions about chocolate you wish people would overcome?
It’s funny. A lot of people I meet tend to associate chocolate with guilt or have an “oh, I shouldn’t be eating that” sort of reaction to it. Instead, I would encourage people to let go of their guilt and truly enjoy the chocolate they’re eating. Chocolate really does tastes better with a guilt-free attitude.
What kind of trends do you foresee for the chocolate world?
Already, we’ve seen bean-to-bar chocolate becoming more and more prevalent. This is where chocolate makers are sourcing beans and manufacturing their own chocolate from scratch, as opposed to buying already finished chocolate, melting it down, and using it as an ingredient. I believe this segment of the market will only continue to grow.
I think pairing chocolate with savory flavors will keep trending upward, as well. By now we’ve all seen or tried some version of bacon and chocolate, for example. I believe we’ll continue seeing savory ingredients like rosemary or olive oil popping up as paired flavors in handcrafted chocolates.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy chocolate?
Enjoying chocolate becomes exponentially special for me when it’s in the company of my friends or family. Sharing chocolate over great conversation and creating new memories is the best I could ask for.
Keep an eye out of Lauren’s future columns, and help us welcome her to the Menuism team!
Lauren Deitsch is the Research & Development Specialist / Chocolatier at Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington, VT, where she works to develop new chocolate recipes every day. She’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. In addition to a love for all things chocolate, she enjoys connecting with friends, reading, traveling, hiking, running, and cooking.