Beta5 Chocolates has a knack for posting drool-worthy pictures of their products that make you want to lick the screen of whatever device you happen to be using. Thankfully, the stuff tastes as good as it looks. The goodies, I mean. Not your screen.
Since opening in late 2011, Beta5 Chocolates has soaked up the praise. It cleaned up the 2012 Canadian National Competition of the International Chocolate Awards. Even better, they competed against the world’s best at the World Final in London and claimed a silver medal for their Imperial Stout confection. Shortly afterward, Adam Chandler was named one of Dessert Professional’s top 10 chocolatiers in North America.
Here’s what we talked about last fall.
What is Beta5 Chocolates known for?
We make artisanal chocolates and confections, preserves, pastries and baked goods. We also have the desserts to go—they’re modern interpretations of classic American cakes, red velvet, banana cream pie, black and tan cake— we reconceive the flavor profiles and the general idea of the desserts and put them into jars for dessert. And there’s the marmalades and jams, seasonal preserves.
How did you come to chocolate?
Through the back door, I guess. I really didn’t like it very much in [culinary] school and I stayed away from it for a couple of years. I took a job at Watermark on Kits beach as pastry chef. It was 2007 and I entered the EAT! Vancouver chocolate competition and ended up winning the overall competition on the professional side. That was my introduction to chocolate after school.
I took a trip to Belgium and worked with the technical supervisor at Belcolade and that’s really where I started to really become inspired by working with choc and get excited by it. That was my real initiation.
I always wanted to have a business of my own with my partner, Jess, and that’s where the idea began. When I came back in mid-2007 we started talking about having a chocolate shop. From there, working in restaurants, I always found a way of incorporating chocolate. At the Loden and Fairmont Pacific Rim, I was working chocolate into the regular production schedule. We took the leap in 2011 so it was sort of backwards, but that’s how we got into it.
What’s the best part of your job?
The creative aspects of it. There’s no monotony. There’s something new every day, new challenges. I like that chocolate is so mysterious. I kind of resented it in the beginning but now that I’m more comfortable with it, I appreciate it. It’s always changing, there’s always something to learn. It keeps us on our toes.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Probably the same as all of the best parts, too. We like playing around with different ideas and being creative, and I think we end up discovering a lot of problems in our ideas. The most challenging part is trying to bring our vision to reality. Working together as a team to develop knowledge and grow and improve our skills. We’re always learning, just like everybody in the industry. You never know everything. [Those challenges] and managing production and finding time to sleep.
What would you do if you weren’t making chocolates?
I’d be cooking in some capacity. I might be baking. I really enjoy bread. but I think I’d be in the kitchen in one capacity or another. I did my B.A. in Sociology and Political Science, but I can’t see myself returning to that world. The kitchen’s my place.
(Note: This post should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Adam Chandler or Beta5 Chocolates. My intention is to highlight the chocolatiers that win medals in the International Chocolate Awards.)