Paddock to Plate Blog Series – Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a Commercial Cookery Lecturer at South West Institute of Technology, Margaret River Education Campus.  In 2011, Amanda was recognised as the VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year at the Australian Training Awards, owing in large part to her innovative 'Paddock to Plate' program which
she runs with her students.  Here, you can read Amanda's blogs for each session throughout the year.

May 2012 Gabriel Chocolate-  Yallingup

Fine chocolate made from cacao beans – WA’s first ‘bean to bar’ experience.

It was exciting to go out and meet Gabriel at his cellar door shop with the apprentices and students- being that chocolate is my favourite food and never having seen the process that the cocoa beans have to travel through to get to the foil wrapped bar, as he is the first artisan manufacturer of
chocolate in WA.

The smell was overpoweringly heavenly- rich, saturated scents from the conching machines and roasting process permeated the air- even with the extractor fans at full roar.

After the cocoa beans have been picked, fermented and dried in their country of origin (South America, Caribbean and Western Africa) they travel to the port of Fremantle where 70 kg sacks are hand loaded off the ship and delivered down to Gabriel chocolate.

The beans go through a process of sorting, and then are roasted according to their variety and final flavour development. They are put through a machine to de husk and you are left with the cocoa nibs.

The cocoa nibs are put through a series of grinding plates to achieve a paste which was still quite gritty on taste and not at all sweet, much to the student’s surprise. It’s this ‘cocoa mass’ which it is put into a conching machine, then has the addition of extra cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla which
results in the bitter sweet taste and velvety texture of dark chocolate. The chocolate is then tempered after some time spent developing through the conching process and the finished chocolate is cut into bars and foil wrapped.

We tasted some 100% chocolate – no sugar added at all and we agreed- best used in savoury cooking – sauces, and Mexican recipes- it was almost too powerful to eat!

We tried some Chuao chocolate from Venezuela – oh my goodness, mmm..mmmm with complex aromas and fruit notes like orange, berries and caramel– all coming from the chocolate itself -not from anything added to it other than a bit of sugar and vanilla. Wonderful!

We didn’t go home empty handed with different chocolates being snapped up – even after the drive back to the campus the smell still lingered in the car. No lunch needed.