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Regional chef turned international chocolatier

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Kaylon Smith_Gordon alumni_chocolaterieFrom the green grasses of Colac to the mountains of Thailand, Kaylon Smith’s journey from apprentice chef to chocolatier has been an adventure.

As a 16-year-old, Kaylon started his cookery apprenticeship at The Gordon while honing his trade at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne. Over time, Kaylon moved to Erskine House and then the Austral Hotel in Colac, cutting his teeth the old-fashioned way in a career in the kitchen.

“You work hard as an apprentice. In the nineties, 85-hour weeks were a real slog, but it did instil a great work ethic in me. Years on, I am still working hard, but it’s a different kind of hard when you work for yourself” said Kaylon.

“As part of my commercial cookery course, I had to complete a grand dinner with an Asian influence. I built an 11kg chocolate Buddha. I was so impressed with what you could create with chocolate I sought out further courses with The Gordon” shared Kaylon.

“What I found most captivating was the art of sugar work with the renowned Brendan Hill. This saw me complete a Certificate IV in Patisserie, where I refined my skills working with chocolate” said Kaylon. 

After working in Canada as a chef for five years, Kaylon was looking for something different. That venture ended in Sampatong, a small village near Chang Mai in the north of Thailand. 

“It was hot, humid, and nothing like the Rockies!” described Kaylon.

“I had studied a lot about the history of Thailand and food in the region, which drew me to the Cacao plant (chocolate plant). Growing up I had a fascination with Red Tulip chocolates, so this is where my passion came from.  Through trial and error, I made my first bar. There were definitely a few trials and errors trying to make chocolate in a tropical climate!” said Kaylon.

“Chocolate is so hard to make" exclaimed Gordon Patisserie teacher and Chocolatier Brendan Hill. 

“Keeping chocolate from separating is hard. You have to find the right balance of ingressions to get the right consistency. It takes years of experience to get the text and flavour to that perfect balance” continued Brendan.

High Concentrations is Kaylon’s new business venture featuring beautifully presented bar chocolate and a unique tea from the Cocao husk. Opened in 2021 and looking to process 3,000kg of chocolate each year, High Concentrations is an open-to-the-public cacao and chocolate processing service.
 
“Chocolate has three basic ingredients; cacao, cacao butter and sugar. The chocolate I make is a bean-to-bar. It’s slightly acidic with an undertone of ripe red berries” said Kaylon, now an established chocolatier in Thailand.

A career in cookery or patisserie can take you anywhere in the world. Find out more about studying cookery and patisserie at The Gordon’s upcoming Information Sessions on Tuesday 11 October at 5pm at the Geelong City Campus, or head to thegordon.edu.au to find out more.