The Master Chocolatier

Gary Mitchell, Head Chocolatier

Waking up every day to the sweet smell of chocolate near the Guittard Chocolate factory in San Francisco, little did Gary Mitchell know that one day he would be Head Chocolatier at Purdys Chocolatier in Vancouver, BC.

Born and raised in San Francisco Gary Mitchell’s destiny was to become a confectionary master. As the Head Chocolatier at Purdys Chocolatier in Vancouver, BC, Gary is credited as the genius behind many of Purdys’ fine chocolates.

Before bringing his talent to the Purdys’ Chocolate Kitchen, he trained with Retail Confectioners International (RCI) in Erie, Pennsylvania and at the School of Chocolate Technology in San Francisco. Gary’s continued quest for knowledge led him to the Chocolate Academy in Montreal, working with renowned French Chef Christophe Morel in Chicago.

When Gary joined the Purdys Chocolatier family in 1993, he had 20 years of experience in the baking industry and a thorough technical education under his belt.

Using his extensive training, Gary has conducted chocolate seminars for factory employees and appeared on numerous television shows. Gary has also been featured in several newspaper and magazine articles regarding his career and his passion for chocolate.

Gary’s daily routine begins at the Kingsway factory at 6:30 a.m., arriving to the delicious aroma of the freshly-made creams and caramels. Surrounded by the wafting scent of chocolate, he begins his daily rounds by tasting the newly-roasted nuts and candy centres. Throughout the day, he makes regular checks on the product as it’s made, offering advice and support to the diligent Purdys factory team.

Gary creates between 100 and 150 new chocolate recipes each year, but only five or six of the very best are chosen to become part of Purdys Chocolatier line-up. The greatest obstacle to the creation process is scouring the world in search of the perfect ingredients to make each new chocolate special.

Gary’s inspiration comes from travel and food. A recent trip to Peru resulted in the Turona, named after a 16th century Spanish confection. Crafted in two layers, its inspiration lay in the quest to combine the delicate ingredients of Gianduja and truffle to create one piece of chocolate perfection. The Turona’s key ingredient is 65% cocoa harvested from a single Peruvian plantation. The soil, which previously harvested bananas, retains the flavour of the fruit, adding a blend of distinct tastes.

Additionally a trip to the Mayan ruins in Mexico inspired the Mayan collection of chocolates, immediately recognizable for their pyramid shape.

Some of Gary’s latest creations include the Red Velvet Cake Truffle, Pear Caramel, Eggnog Truffle, Brown Butter Maple Caramel and Pumpkin Caramel. Gary continues to experiment with such ingredients as cheese and chocolate, and has created dessert chocolates such as the Tiramisu and Raspberry Balsamic Truffles.

In 2011, Gary won Best Truffle at the Toronto Baking & Sweets Show. His brie, fig, basil and lemon zest truffle won the first of the now-annual competition. He is credited with creating and designing Purdys “Smoothies” chocolates. His award winning creation “Caramel Carnival” was honoured as the Best New Piece at Retail Confectioners’ International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in 2004.

For those who feel adventurous, Gary, with his gift for combining the sweet and the savoury, has a challenge for you! Through an ongoing series of YouTube videos, Gary has created unique recipes for special occasions. Such recipes as grilled salmon with white chocolate lemon sauce, chocolate pear and prosciutto pizza, hazelnut crepes and white chocolate martinis are available for yourconsumption on our YouTube Channel. Don’t hesitate to try out any of these delicious dishes.

Follow Gary Mitchell on Twitter: @ChocolatierGary