Culinary Arts and Baking Students Design Signature Chocolate for VIU

Culinary Arts and Baking Students design signature chocolate for VIU

Ken Harper, VIU Pastry Chef Instructor and VIU Professional Baking and Pastry Arts students Darian Zowtuck, Julie Bradshaw and Tammy Drover who are vying for a chance to co-design a signature VIU chocolate.

December 3, 2019 - 1:00pm

VIU is the fourth Canadian educational institution ̶ and the fifth one in the world ̶ to create an exclusive chocolate recipe.

Dark, milk, white, fruits and nuts and even spice  ̶  almost everyone has a favourite shade and type of chocolate, but not many get the opportunity to invent their own unique and exclusive taste sensation for the market. 

The creation of a distinctive Vancouver Island University (VIU) chocolate is being made possible through the Cacao Barry Or Noir™ experience. The exclusive concept, which started in 2012, allows the chef to customize their own chocolate recipe from a selection of the best cocoa beans coming from all around the world.

VIU Professional Baking and Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts students are competing in a friendly contest to earn the chance to co-create the signature chocolate.

Cacao Barry is a longtime supporter of VIU’s Culinary Arts and Baking programs, donating 500 kg of chocolate every year for students to learn and create with. To take advantage of this new opportunity through the Or Noir™ experience, interested students have to submit a written essay and then win a blind tasting contest being organized by VIU Baking Instructor Ken Harper on December 9.

 “Chocolate has a more complex flavour profile than wine and many different components contribute to the taste and texture that make it stand out,” explains Harper.

Julie Bradshaw, a VIU Professional Baking and Pastry Arts student, is one of several students vying for the chance to co-create the recipe. She will be going on a European field school trip to France and Belgium in January 2020, where the final product will be made at a Cacao Barry chocolate factory outside of Paris during the field school excursion.

“Being able to add to your resumé that you co-designed a unique chocolate recipe and received personal training in Paris is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Bradshaw.

 “I had been thinking of specializing in making chocolates long before I enrolled in the baking program. I really enjoy doing that, and I’ve learned so much in the program already.”

Prior to the European field school trip, Harper and the winning student will begin determining the nuances of the chocolate flavour with the help of the Or Noir™ Laboratory Director. During the field school, the winning student will also receive two and a half hours of instruction in chocolate making while at the facility near Paris.

“I am blessed to be able to participate in the contest to create something unique for my university,” says VIU Baking student Tammy Drover. “Learning about chocolate in class, the different types and what goes into the process of making it has helped me really appreciate it.”

For more than 175 years, Cacao Barry has been using all its know-how and expertise to offer gastronomy professionals exceptional chocolate.  

“The Or Noir™ experience, an innovative method patented by Cacao Barry, enables the chocolatier to predict the organoleptic properties, taste, colour, odour and feel of the chocolate profile before the blend has been physically produced,” says Mark Pennington, Cacao Barry Regional Sales Manager.

A portion of the new chocolate will be used by the baking program for the creation of new recipes, as students and instructors alike will be inspired by the flavor profile of this custom chocolate, and some will be made into customized bars that will be sold on campus. There will also be an opportunity for graphic design students to help develop the design for the VIU chocolate bar packaging. Funds raised from the sale of the bars will help finance a second iteration of the chocolate flavour design in 2022.

“Through the Or Noir™ experience, we are creating a legacy for VIU,” adds Harper.

It will take about four months following the designing process for the chocolate to be available for consumption.



 Annette Lucas, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.741.2020 | C: 250.618.7296 | E:

Tags: Baking and Pastry Arts | Culinary Arts | Teaching and Learning

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