[Rick Smilow]: We decided to build the nation’s first
education focused bean-to-bar chocolate lab as a way to have our students
explore the process that goes into creating artisan chocolate. Chef Michael
Laiskonis is a James Beard award-winning chef with a great interest in knowledge
in chocolate production. It was only natural to have him to develop the
curriculum for this lab. [Michael Laiskonis]: Chefs truly never stop learning and it’s so exciting
for me to be at the helm of the ICE chocolate lab because I know I’m going to
learn so much through this process. The creation of the ICE chocolate lab is
really a testament to the school’s forward-looking philosophy and linking
artisan food production with culinary education. Within the four walls of the
lab we’ll be making chocolate on a regular basis, we’ll be making confections
of all kinds and really opening that up to a broad array of educational
opportunities from recreational, career students to professionals already
working in the field. The chocolate lab at ICE features an artisanal chocolate
studio and bean-to-bar chocolate production equipment including the full
range necessary to create chocolate from roasting beans all the way through to
the process of tempering and molding single origin chocolate bars and
confections. ICE partnered with top-of-the-line brands to create this
lab, including Cacao Cucina, to provide small batch of chocolate production
equipment, and Tomric to provide chocolate tempering machines and an
enrobing line. [John Vessa] There’s really no other school in the world that we know of
teaching bean-to-bar chocolate making at this level and this hands-on nature.
We’re very happy to be part of it and this is just a top-notch facility. I
think you gain an appreciation for how much work has really gone into the cacao
bean before you even make chocolate. [Kim Vessa] There are a lot of people that use
chocolate but they don’t know how chocolate is made and they don’t
understand and appreciate the different origins of beans and how it affects the
flavor profile and how, when you can formulate your own chocolate and start
with the roasting of the beans and take it through the grinding and refining
process, you end up with something that’s completely unique and completely
different from chocolate that you buy that’s already made. [Tom Elsinghorst]: Tomeric is so
excited to be asked to be part of this new bean-to-bar project here at ICE. It
represents a great leap forward in chocolate innovation. Not only does Tomric manufacture plastic moulds for the confectionery industry but we carry a wide variety of products from throughout the world. Our
goal is to bring the best in the confectionery industry throughout the
world to people in the United States and Canada. [Michael Laiskonis]: What I think this opportunity
will provide is a greater respect for chocolate as an ingredient it no longer
is just some random thing in a bag or a box that we grabbed to put into a
recipe but we better respect all the work that goes into it.