Someone recently asked me "What is art?". That is a good question and very hard to put into words. Everyone has their own interpretation. To me, art is many things. Art is creativity, a way to express one's self or make a statement. A way to show beauty, humor, or despair. Art is a release. Art, in my opinion, is comforting. Even if it is a depressing oil painting, I know that someone's thoughts are behind it. I like to think about what made the artist choose their subject matter. We surround ourselves with it in our homes. We see it preserved in museums. We see it in the public. We make it. As a Chattanoogan, I believe that public art is important because it creates a unique environment, a feel of diversity, and makes a city have its defining character. It makes us stand out as a community. Public art adds charm to Chattanooga's natural beauty. It is enticing and it draws people into the city making it interesting and gives motive to explore its inner core. It draws people here and I think we need more of it. In a way, I consider The Hot Chocolatier to be a form of public art. We are open to and serve the public our creations each week. We strive to be unique and use the best ingredients to make our products appeal to everyone as comforting, delicious, and satisfying. We want everyone to indulge themselves with our beautiful handmade chocolates.
So, why is what we do so important? Being a chocolatier is a form of culinary art. It is my creative outlet. Chocolate is the medium which I have chosen to work with. It is something I do because I love it. I find it fascinating to work with and I enjoy learning more about it everyday. I appreciate working with it as much as I love to present it to others to enjoy visually as much as it's taste. Chocolate is comforting and I have a passion for creating beautiful, edible works of art for everyone to enjoy. Also, its origins are rich with history. This history alone makes me excited to keep the art of working with chocolate strong and an important ingredient to offer everyone.
Before I knew I was going to be a chocolatier, I studied art. I began with drawing and moved into painting. I had a great professor who gave our class the assignment of making a painting in the style of another particular artist. I chose Jasper Johns who is famous for his encaustic paintings. Encaustic paintings are made by melting beeswax, mixing pigment into the wax, and using that as your paint. I became fascinated with it and absolutely loved working with this medium. I have always loved art, yet I never knew what I wanted to become. I struggled with finding a career path. I worked lots of retail jobs, a few desk jobs, and even worked in a hospital. Finally, I realized that there was one thing I always enjoyed doing. I loved baking. I loved making candies. I even started selling my creations to co-workers when I worked at the hospital. I decided to go to pastry school. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We moved to Chicago where I attended The French Pastry School. It was a challenge I pushed myself to do and after learning all forms of pastries, breads, ice creams, chocolate and sugar sculpture, chocolate and sugar candies, etc.; I still found that my passion was working with chocolate. I love it because you can do so much with it. My favorite, both then and now, has been sculpting with chocolate.
About nine years after my initial study of art, one of my professors visited our chocolate shop. He looked at some of the sculptures I had on display and at the truffles in our case. He said, "Have you ever noticed the similarities between your old paintings and your work with chocolate?". I hadn't thought about it but I immediately made the connection and my stomach dropped. How could I have not noticed this? Chocolate and wax are so similar. I found it so amazing that this had happened. After struggling for so long to find my path, I felt like it had been right before my eyes. It is so funny where life leads you. All the connections I've made have led me to where I am at this point in my life. My study of chocolate as a medium truly started in my kitchen back in 2003 and I feel as though I have only just scratched the surface. There is so much more to come. It is important for me to carry on my work with chocolate so that I can continue to provide my customers with my artwork. (Please visit Cameron Adam's Blog "Chattanooga Charm" for his post about this and photos. Special THANKS to Cameron and my super special husband, Brandon, for helping me get to where I am!)