FROM the green herbs of Colac to the mountains of Thailand, Kaylon Smith’s journey from apprentice chef to chocolatier has been unexpected.
At the age of 16, Kaylon began her apprenticeship at The Gordon while honing her craft at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne. Over time, Kaylon moved to Erskine House and then to the Hotel Austral in Colac, cutting her teeth the old-fashioned way in a career in the kitchen.
“You work hard as an apprentice. In the 1990s, 85-hour weeks were a real grind, but it instilled in me a great work ethic,” Kaylon said.
“Years later I’m still working hard, but it’s a different kind of hard when you’re working for yourself.
“As part of my commercial cooking class, I had to make a big dinner with Asian influences. So I built an 11 kg chocolate Buddha. I was so impressed with what you can create with chocolate that I looked for other courses with The Gordon.
“I continued to take short courses at The Gordon, developing my skills. What I found most enthralling was the art of working sugar with renowned teacher Brendan Hill, which allowed me to pursue my Certificate IV in Pastry.
“I refined my chocolate work and really cemented a new passion that grew out of a fascination with the flavor of red tulip chocolates.”
After working in Canada as a chef for five years, Kaylon was looking for something different. This adventure ended in Sampatong, a small village near Chang Mai in northern Thailand.
“It was hot, humid and nothing like the Rockies,” Kaylon said.
“I had studied the history of Thailand and the gastronomy of the region a lot, which attracted me to the cacao tree (chocolate plant). Through trial and error, I made my first bar. There is definitely had some trial and error trying to make chocolate in a tropical climate.”
“Chocolate is so hard to make,” said Gordon, baking teacher and chocolatier, Brendan Hill.
“Preventing the chocolate from separating is difficult. You need to find the right balance of intrusions to get the right consistency. It takes years of experience to get the text and flavor to that perfect balance.
High Concentrations is Kaylon’s new business venture offering beautifully presented chocolate bars and a unique cocoa pod tea.
Opened in 2021 and aiming to process 3,000 kg of chocolate each year, High Concentrations is a cocoa and chocolate processing service open to the public.
“Chocolate contains three basic ingredients: cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar. The chocolate I make is a bean-to-bar. It’s slightly acidic with an undertone of ripe red fruit,” said Kaylon, now an established chocolate maker in Thailand.
A career in cooking or baking can take you anywhere in the world.
Find out more about studying cooking and pastry at The Gordon’s upcoming information sessions on Tuesday, October 11 at 5 p.m. at the Geelong City campus, or go to thegordon.edu.au to find out more. more.
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