Back in March, three weeks before the pandemic shutdown, a young woman entered the shop and asked if we were hiring. As serendipity would have it, we were, but I told her we were looking for someone with professional pastry training. No problem, said she, she was a CIA (not the spy agency) graduate in pastry, who had a stint in chocolate making under Chef Greweling (the high priest of the American chocolate industry). Darcy and I conducted an interview and voila, Sarah Levine joined our team.
We insist on pastry skills because of the light touch they develop, but that is just the starting point. Every team member is trained in our very specific ways of making chocolates, ganaches, candying, making nut pastes. It takes a good six months to become a passable chocolatier, but Sarah took that time to become a terrific one.
The last hurdle to becoming a fully formed chocolatier is the ability to create a new confection, which everyone on our team is expected to do. Sarah did it with a Mendiant (bar with inclusions), where she combined New Orleans style pecan pralines with a touch of chipotle. I thought it was good enough to enter into a competition and we did just that in September, with the NW Chocolate Alliance 2020 Global awards. In November, Sarah's bar earned a silver medal in the confection category, out of their largest field of competitors ever!
Sarah's win serves to remind us how important it is to nurture talent and to give it the space to develop. We have big plans, and cannot wait to share what else comes out of 189 Brackett in the coming months!