Published by: Tobi Mark
School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts
It has been a few weeks since I’ve returned from my amazing trip to Paris and Madagascar. What an experience! Travelling is truly an education. I was fortunate enough to be part of the first ARAP (Applied Research Abroad Project) at Centennial College. This involved two students and our esteemed professor, Chef Sally Chiu-Hildebrandt.
The focus of our study was near and dear to most of our hearts, Chocolate. Our goal was to learn about how chocolate (or its original form, cacao) grows and is harvested. In order to do this, we also had to hone our chocolate skills. We learned more techniques in chocolate tempering and assisted in Chocolate practical labs at Centennial.
This was an amazing opportunity to build our confidence in chocolate confections. We also simultaneously studied our topic in depth. We each picked an aspect of cacao production and researched it in depth. We wrote papers summarizing our research. The reason why? We needed to know our topic before the next part of our awesome journey.
After months of preparation, we embarked on our trip to Paris and Madagascar.
Paris – what can I say about Paris? It was my first time to this beautiful city and I absolutely adored it. We toured many chocolate shops and even toured pastry shops as well. I think I gained a few pounds but tried to work it off with endless walks around the city. I loved the way everything was presented in the pastry and chocolate shops. My favourite? The beautiful piece fully constructed out of chocolate by Patrick Roger.
What impressed me even more is that what I learned in the Baking and Pastry Arts Management Program at Centennial College matched much of what I saw in the field. What a great way to reinforce my learning!
After 5 days in Paris, we flew to Madagascar and began the next leg of our journey. Madagascar is a lot different from Paris! It is a beautiful country but it is still developing. We saw beautiful landscapes that took our breath away but simultaneously we saw other sights that were challenging.
The Malagasy people are very kind and welcoming. We met wonderful new friends.
Being able to see the process of cacao farming really brought all that research we did to life. It augmented my learning and is something I’ll never forget. We were fortunate to help on the cacao farm and I even wielded a machete to open a cacao pod. Well, the machete wielding only happened twice because I quickly learned that I liked my hands and wanted to keep them on my body!
The experience and opportunity to witness cacao from tree to bean was something I will never forget. Thank you SaGE, The School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts and Centennial College for this life changing opportunity!