INTERVIEW: George Paul Chocolates
Hello Chocoholics! I want to introduce you to a chocolatier named George Paul of George Paul Chocolates.
I’ve met George on more than one occasion while attending various chocolate festivals here in the Seattle area. I’ve also been following George for a while now on Facebook and Twitter and have exchanged a few chocolaty comments with him. George is awesome! Not only are his chocolate bars absolutely addicting (I want his Pineapple Habanero Chocolate Bar NOW!!!), he’s also a very down-to-earth guy who loves to talk about his enviable chocolate world to anyone who will listen.
About George Paul Chocolates
George Paul Chocolates produces small handcrafted batches of artisan chocolate bars and confections in his Ballard kitchen in Seattle, WA. Using hand-selected, top-shelf ingredients results in flavors for the tame, to the adventurous. They make everything from a 72% Dark Chocolate with Orange Oil to a 38% Milk Chocolate infused with Aztec Spices They have a wide range of products to satisfy all kinds of taste buds.
And now, here’s George!
Laura: What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a chocolatier or work mainly with Chocolate?
George: On my birthday a few years ago, I received a chocolate truffle cook book and I got to work right away making a few different truffles. Within a couple of days I started getting orders, including one for 1,000 pieces. That kind of pushed me in head first into the business.
Laura: Were you formally trained in the art of working with Chocolate?
George: No, not really. I’ve taken a few day classes here and there in order to cement the mechanics of chocolate work, but otherwise I’ve been completely self-taught. My flavor combinations and recipes all come from days of testing, and plenty of mistakes.
Laura: How would you describe the product line your company offers?
George: My product line has changed a lot the last couple of years as I learned what my customers want. For now, and for the immediate future, my product line consists of a range of uniquely flavored chocolate bars using only the highest grades of chocolate and ingredients sourced from the best purveyors. We also do a few truffle bars such as Mango Habanero, Vegan Lime, and our newest and VERY popular, Salted Caramel.
Laura: What is your best selling product and what is your personal favorite?
George: My best selling chocolate bar changes at every show, but consistently they are the combinations that are the most unique. One day it’s Pineapple-Habanero, another Aztec Spice or Coconut Curry.
My personal favorite? Well that changes a lot too. It tends to be whatever is my newest flavor. After putting in countless hours to perfect a new flavor I always have a special appreciation for the final product.
Laura: Up to now, what has been the greatest highlight of your chocolate career?
George: My greatest highlight is every time a customer tries one of the unique combinations I make and they respond with awe. At first, Pineapple-Habanero might be off-putting to most but when they get the chance to taste it and have a smile on their face. . . those are the highlights I remember.
Laura: What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced in your chocolate career?
George: I’ve made plenty of mistakes, most from just being so new and inexperienced to the chocolate business. In the beginning you don’t realize what you need. I made the mistake of buying machines twice that were too small for any meaningful amount of production. I’ve gone through multiple types of packaging, booth set-ups and logo designs. My most difficult challenge has just been my own inexperience, but everyday that I continue in this business I learn more and am that much more capable of handling the next challenge.
Laura: What does a typical day consist of in the life of a Chocolatier?
George: On a chocolate day, I start the day early in the morning and start melting the chocolate I’m going to work with that day, usually about 30 pounds per bar I’m planning on making that day. The next few hours is making sure everything is lined up for that days production. With such a limited amount of time available to actually make my chocolate bars, I need to make sure that EVERYTHING is lined up for the production hours so that I can be sure to take advantage of all the hours I do have.
Laura: Do you work with Chocolate every day?
George: I work on my chocolate production a few days a week, the rest of the week is spent on the business side of chocolate, everything from sourcing ingredients to new packaging. Dealing with vendors is a 7-day-a-week job in itself, in between I need to find time to make my entire line and work on new flavor combinations and products.
Laura: If you weren’t working with chocolate, what would you be doing?
I would be running some other sort of business. What it is, I’m not sure. Likely something in food service. I’d love to open up a small brunch restaurant.
Laura: What is next for you and for your company?
We are just a matter of weeks from starting our wholesale business. We’ve had amazing response at the chocolate shows we’ve done from many area stores that want to carry our product, and it’s a natural extension of our business. Now our customers that look for us at the chocolate shows will be able to go to their local stores and buy our products.
We are also a few weeks away from having a small storefront in Ballard that we will be sharing with a few other talented confectioners. You’ll be able to come in and watch us working and making our products and also have an opportunity to buy our products there. We’ll also be able to offer some unique fresh cream truffles that won’t be found at any of our wholesale accounts.
Laura: Thank you SO much, George, for sharing your career as a chocolatier I wish you much success and will definitely stop by your new store in Ballard soon!
George: Thank you!