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Have you ever tasted a dry, disappointing brownie? A flat, greasy chocolate-chip cookie? A chocolate cream pie that was neither creamy nor chocolaty? Me, too! The difference is, when I encounter less-than-stellar baked goods, candies, drinks, or treats, I have to fix them. And I always do. Because that’s my job.
I’m a “chocolate whisperer” (the world’s first!). That means that I specialize in Theobroma cacao—and everything that’s made from it. My clients come to me (sometimes secretly) whenever they need to turn subpar chocolate goodies into culinary superstars.
Never heard of me? That’s exactly the way my clients (and I) like it. See, I mostly work on a referral basis, troubleshooting chocolates on the QT for a carefully selected group of consultees. Sometimes that means developing new product lines for multinational corporations. Sometimes it means creating chocolate ice creams, cheesecakes, or elaborately plated desserts for restaurateurs. Sometimes it means getting my hands dirty in the back-of-house at a local mom-and-pop bakery, helping it compete with a rival pâtisserie or encroaching fast-food chain.
I don’t take jobs because they’re lucrative. I take them because they’re challenging. Or interesting. Or just because someone really needs my help. I’m a soft touch that way.
I just can’t say no. Especially not when it comes to sweet, heart-poundingly luscious chocolate, in all of its myriad forms.
When most people find out what I do for a living, they have one of two reactions. Either they think my life is a nonstop vacation (because of all the traveling I do), or they think I must have a sweet tooth the size of Texas (because of all the chocolate I sample). The truth is, those people are not wrong.
I do visit my share of exotic locales. The Taj Mahal. The Eiffel Tower. The Great Wall of China. All of them (and more) have starring roles in my Instagram feed. And I do taste more than the typical amount of chocolate. Caramel truffles. Triple mocha brownies. Cocoa cake with raspberry buttercream.
I’m guilty. Guilty as charged.
But that’s not because I’m an incurable vagabond or because I’m a glutton for Theobroma cacao. It’s because—in the first case—my eccentric uncle Ross’s will stipulates that I keep moving . . . at least if I want to supply myself with couverture spoons and Converse (and I do). It’s also because—in the second case—sharpening my renowned taste buds with all the latest chocolaty treats is my job. Seriously. It really is.
You should probably know one thing about me right up front: I’m not a morning person. Never have been, never will be. If it’s too early for traffic jams, tequila, and at least fifty percent of the taxi drivers in any given metropolis to be plying their trade, then it’s too early for me. End of story. But sometimes I have to make exceptions. Doesn’t everyone?
The fact of the matter is, I don’t always set my own hours. Sometimes, my clients do that for me. That’s because I’m a freelancer—a freelance chocolate whisperer. You might not have heard of me. I’m the first of my kind. My clients would probably prefer you don’t know I exist. But I definitely do. Continue reading
You probably already know not to eat French fries with your fingers in Chile, not to shake hands across a threshold in Russia, and to always sit in the backseat of a taxi (never up front with the driver) if you’re a woman traveling solo in Costa Rica. But you might not know that ordinary chocolate contains over five hundred unique flavor components—more than twice that of vanilla or strawberry. You might not know that you should let your next bite of chocolate melt on your tongue (don’t chew it!) for the ultimate flavor experience. And you might not know that the most chocolaty chocolate mousse is made with high-quality chocolate and water (not cream). Not many people do—not even the restaurateurs, TV chefs, and chocolate-company executives who hire me to troubleshoot their Theobroma cacao cookies, cakes, and confections. Continue reading