Derrick Pho, Master Chocolatier and founder of the Chocolate Technology Center, is committed to educating the next generation of chocolatiers.
Through his years of experience and raw passion for the art of making chocolate, Pho has realized that having a deep understanding of the behavior of chocolate is the key to consistency–which also happens to be the key to success. At The Chocolate Technology Center, he deconstructs the process to the very basics to ensure that students have a firm grasp on chocolate theory so that they can effectively, and tastefully, translate that to a delicious product.
Based in Toronto, Pho co-founded Sambirano Valley Chocolat, a premium Madagascar pure origin couverture chocolate, which contains a very high percentage of cocoa butter. He also created the Canadian Intercollegiate Chocolate Competition, held at Humber College in Toronto, and oversaw the Canadian selection and coaching for the highest distinction of the international chocolate competition.
A client of Micelli, Pho is deeply invested in educating, inspiring and empowering his successors. To learn more about what fuels Pho and the intention of the Chocolate Technology Center to grow, influence and pioneer the future of chocolate, we had to pick his forward-thinking brain.
In 2016, you launched the Chocolate Technology Center. Can you talk about how your love of chocolate-making has made you want to reach out to others who want to learn?
“As you may know, we are not the first pastry/chocolate school. However, the market is so versatile with chefs and apprentices. Everyone tries to learn the “how” of certain techniques to create colorful bonbons. Others struggle to temper the chocolate properly, and some are looking to perfect their knowledge overall.
The Chocolate Technology Center is founded on a passion of sharing and the love of this magical chocolate through its texture, colors, feeling and taste. My philosophy is ‘the understanding of every ingredient is the key to master it’. This also helps us to define and use it at its full potential. Recipes are everywhere, on the internet, in cookbooks, chef’s notes, even secret family recipes. The question is, ‘can you take it and make use of it to its full potential? Can you explain, why it comes out great one day and not the next? Or why the specific ingredients are used? Why the chocolate is super shiny today and wasn’t yesterday or the day before when you did everything the same?
With my years of experience, testing and playing around, I think that everything needs to come back to the basics. Not how to do something, but understand how it works. This is how the Chocolate Technology Center was born; we focus on different stages of teaching. The courses are based on understanding all the crystals in chocolate, basic techniques of making ganache, and understanding the ‘why’ behind every chef’s techniques. In the 102 course, we discuss cocoa butter colors, compressors, spray guns and all the different techniques used to color your mold and dipped ganache (from spraying, scratching, stencils etc.). Then we explore the world of ingredients; how different ingredients interact with each other through emulsification, homogenization, tabling, mixing etc. We also explore the methods of infusion, maceration, decoction, extraction, brew and cold brew (for the applications that need it). One thing is for sure; certain techniques don’t fit every recipe; it’s up to us to choose the right one.
I would love to see all chocolate lovers come to join the courses that we’ve designed. Come share your passion and love for chocolate. This is the only way we can raise the bar in the industry."
What is the most appealing aspect of chocolate-making to you?
"The magic that happens when all the ingredients come together to give you a 10 gram sweet that combines flavor, texture and visual art. The chocolate bonbon is architecture of both taste and art."
How has Micelli Chocolate Molds helped you in your chocolate-making business?
"Micelli has helped me for many years with its service and the quality of its polycarbonate injection molds. Their attention to detail and ability to listen to the customer helps to create the right prototype the first time. That saves us a lot of time on any type of project. Their delivery is always on time and they have fair pricing!"
You personally make some beautiful art with your chocolate designs - what about the aesthetic process enhances your chocolate-making experience?
"Mother nature gives us a whole palette of colors, textures, and scents throughout its four seasons. That is where I look for most of my inspiration. Then comes architecture and design."
Your company has plans for your own chocolate plantation in Madagascar. Why is it important to you to have a guaranteed single origin chocolate product?
"Single origin is actually not the most important aspect to me. The origin of the bean at the purest this is the most important for me. As you may know they have more than 100 varieties of cocoa bean, with grafting and other techniques, to help increase the yield per hectare. I am not criticizing this practice, I just personally believe in our practice of sourcing of the finest and purest bean for my chocolate. To achieve our belief we have no choice but to start with selecting the purest species to be true to the origin of the tree, not the origin of the country. It makes a big difference in final product. Also, I felt in love with the country."
What are the next big steps for you and Sambirano Chocolate?
"Well, that’s a great question. We will let you to discover what’s next along with us. How about that?"
For The Love of Making Chocolate,
The Micelli Team