Working with Chocolate

Chocolate sculptor Scott Green gives TFK the inside scoop on his sweet job

Dec 26, 2012 | By TFK Kid Reporter Alice Gottesman
MICHAEL BUXBAUM

Chef Scott Green carves sculptures out of chocolate. 

Chocolates, truffles, and cakes, oh my! The Chicago Fine Chocolate Show took place in November. Pastry chefs from around the country handed out samples of their very best work. The chefs brought a variety of tasty treats, from milk-chocolate candies to hand-painted truffles.

Chef Scott Green, an instructor at the French Pastry School and a chocolate sculptor, wowed attendees at the show. Not only did he bring his work for all to see, but he also sculpted chocolate figurines right then and there.

Green talked to TFK about his job as a chocolate sculptor. He explained that he thinks of himself as an artist who just happens to work with chocolate rather than clay or wood. “I have been around chocolate so long it isn’t chocolate anymore,” he said. To learn more about the job of a chocolate sculptor, read on. 

At the show, TFK Kid Reporter Alice Gottesman also learned about Icing Smiles. The organization arranges for top chefs to create cakes for kids impacted by a serious illness.
COURTESY PATTI WOLTER
At the show, TFK Kid Reporter Alice Gottesman also learned about Icing Smiles. The organization arranges for top chefs to create cakes for kids impacted by a serious illness.

TFK:

Have you ever had a sculpture melt?

CHEF GREEN:

I have. This past year, another chef and I were working [together] for a competition, and we built a big chocolate sculpture. It was in the middle of the summer, and the air conditioning died overnight. We had about 200 pounds of chocolate melt everywhere. That was probably $2,000 or $3,000 worth of chocolate. Oops!

TFK:

What was the hardest thing that you have ever carved, and what was it made of?

GREEN:

In 2002, I did the U.S. Pastry Championship, and I had to carve a castle out of white chocolate for the competition. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience, and white chocolate is very hard to carve. That was definitely the hardest thing I have ever carved.

TFK:

How long does it take to make an average sculpture?

GREEN:

For me, it takes a couple of days. Most of that time is getting all the pieces ready. The easiest part is gluing it all together. It takes about three hours to glue it all together. Chocolate is used for glue. It holds together very well.

TFK:

How much chocolate do you use per sculpture?

GREEN:

It depends on the sculpture. As chefs, we talk about kilograms. One kilogram is about two pounds. For a showpiece, I maybe use 20 to 60 pounds of chocolate. It’s a lot. You have to be really strong to lift it. I always ask for help.

TFK:

Is it easier to work with sugar or chocolate?

GREEN:

They are very different. It’s a hard answer. Overall, it is easier to work with chocolate. Chocolate likes being poured into molds, and it sets up at room temperature. You can always add more, it’s easy to fix. It is kind of like working with clay. Sugar is much more fragile. It is very delicate. It is very hot when you work with it and not as easy. But chocolate is a lot messier.