CHEK Upside: VIU launches its own signature chocolate

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In Vancouver Island University’s baking and pastry arts program, students learn a wide variety of culinary skills, and there’s one ingredient that gets used a lot.

“We use chocolates in certainly many applications,” says pastry chef instructor Ken Harper.

“One of our program sponsors…they actually have been running a program called Noir Noir where individuals and pastry chefs can come into the factory and design a chocolate from scratch.”

So in 2019, Harper started his search for a student to take on an international chocolate journey. After an extensive taste test, Darian Zowtuck was chosen for the trip in January of 2020 to Paris.

“She and I went to one of the chocolate factories of Cacao Berry and we went there for the day to their special laboratory in order to design this custom chocolate,” says Harper.

“It was like VIP from the moment we got there, they were showing us everything, their beautiful facility,” says Zowtuck.

“The biggest highlight is looking at the computer where it shows the chocolate itself and all the little things that were put into it.”

After the manufacturing of the chocolate was delayed due to the pandemic, Harper and VIU finally took delivery of the first batch of Spindle Whorl Chocolate.

The name comes from a traditional Coast Salish tool, with the branding designed by another VIU student.

“To have that student involvement where they now have a real ownership over the process of something that is so exotic as chocolate, has been a fantastic experience,” says Harper.

The chocolate is expected to go on sale off-campus in 2022.

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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