LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. December, 2012—Luisa Chocolatiere has been a vital part of the Laguna Hills for 18 years. Owner Luisa Cuevas is hands and heart deep in her chocolaty creations. Her extensive French training and love for fine cooking took her to France in the early 80s and her life has been blissfully sweet ever since.
In Paris, Luisa attended Le Pot au Feu Culinary School. The rigorous culinary program requires training and internships to prepare students for the professional cook’s licensing exam, the CAP (certificat d’aptitude professionnelle). Her favorite and most memorable parts of the program were the boulangerie (baking) and patisserie (pastry) courses.
Luisa’s pastry internship placed her at a prestigious pastry and chocolate shop in Versailles under esteemed Master Patissier and Chocolatier, Monsieur Sender, an MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the highest level craftsman certification). Everything made in France was “old school.” Monsieur Sender taught her everything from making dough to hand tempering chocolate. He noticed her aptitude and offered to send Luisa for further chocolate training at the Ecole du Chocolat in Nanterre, France, a school that only accepts professionals. Training at this level developed her keen eye for technique and detail in handcrafted chocolates. “Fine chocolate became a love, a challenge and an obsession that continues today,” avows Luisa.
In Europe she learned that chocolate is a way of life, not just a specialty item. Woven into the fabric of daily routine, enjoying a piece of chocolate or sweet pastry with coffee is commonplace. Quality over quantity is valued in Europe. “Our product is artisanal. We don’t use machines (except for our chocolate temperers),” she says.
Every hand crafted chocolate is also hand packaged and tied with ribbons. “Chocolate is my passion. It not only tastes delicious but you can individualize each confection. It is even good for your health,” Luisa says. With 14 or 15-hour work days, “You have to love what you do. The food business is a demanding lover.”
Suzanna Hoang is a pastry cook at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach and a food writer for Great Taste Magazine. She loves finding ways to be more creative and efficient in the kitchen and likewise with her writing, trying her best to blend experiences in both fields to become a well versed professional-in-training.
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