Tasting Sweet Success – GBC Entrepreneurs
Katie Wilson, 2011 Graduate
Professional Chocolatier Certificate
Professional chocolate maker finds delicious inspiration through continuing education
Katie Wilson fell in love with chocolate and all its complexities years ago while travelling abroad. That experience later led her to launch her own bean-to-bar chocolate factory, Soul Chocolate. Helping her turn her chocolate dreams into reality was the solid foundation of learning that Katie gained from completing George Brown College’s Professional Chocolatier Certificate.
“It inspired me to learn to recognize quality chocolate,” says Katie of her experience in the Continuing Education certificate program, which she finished in 2011. “It opened my eyes and made me want to make good quality chocolate – not just melted-down Belgian chocolate, but chocolate made from scratch. George Brown is where I really learned about chocolate, so it definitely helped to advance my career.”
If you’re interested in learning more about George Brown College’s influence on Katie’s success, check out the rest of her story on the George Brown College Continuing Education Student Success Stories page.
To learn more about Katie’s entrepreneurial journey, here’s an excerpt from Shopify’s article on Soul Chocolate:
Soul Chocolate was born out of a curiosity for the origin of things. The couple strives to discover the culinary heart of each country they visit, turning raw beans into a bar-shaped love letter to each of their favorite travel locales.
Everything, down to the package design, celebrates the origin of the beans. They hired a friend to design unique wrappers for each bar variety, inspired by the country.
“For Madagascar, the black and white, the triangle design is based on the textiles. For Venezuela, the design is a bird called a troupial—it’s the national bird. The Tanzania is an abstract of the face of a zebra.”
The beans are sourced directly from farmers, currently from Madagascar, Tanzania, and Papua New Guinea. Sourcing and shipping from some regions can be tricky and costly. But in the small, growing bean to bar community in Toronto, they found cooperation among competition, says Katie:
“The majority of the bean to bar makers are pretty open to where they get their cacao. With Ecuador, for example, we got in through a non profit that’s the bridge between the farmer and us. The next goal would be to get a bunch of chocolate makers together and go in on a container, because it’s really expensive. Everyone’s going to be getting beans from the same regions anyway. It’s just a matter of putting your own touch on it in the end.”
Katie and Kyle have discovered that each region has its own processes, with some being easier to navigate than others. Luckily, their Madagascar contact is tech-savvy and communicates by email.
“Currently Madagascar is direct trade. The farmer has storage in the states so it’s really easily accessible. We kind of just wanted to see what else is out there and maybe find some smaller farmers and help them out.”
Good karma is abundant. Katie and Kyle have been fortunate to receive help from other entrepreneurs and bean to bar producers, and are happy to pay it forward.
“It’s all about people and developing real relationships, not just about the dollar. People are what drive it. You never who you’re going to meet, whether that person will be able to really help you in some way.”