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A bio-tech engineer from Coimbatore who decided his life’s calling was to become a Chocolatier
How did you end up in an offbeat, unconventional and cool career such as a chocolatier?
Arun Viswanathan S.K. visited the famous Hershey’s chocolate people when he was pursuing a dual Masters in Food Science and Technology at Cornell.
That, he says, was the starting point of his journey towards setting up his own chocolate place. He got lucky as he was accepted as an intern with renowned Dominique Personne of the Chocolate Line Fame in Belgium.
Arun attended a 45-day, certification programme stint there where he had an opportunity to observe and work with some of the best chocolate artisans.
Arun now makes his own chocolates and his line is called Ganache for Da Chocoholics. “At the moment it is just me with my mother helping out. I exercise the strictest food safety measures and care while making the chocolates, and I work with flavours that I know will appeal to our palettes.”
What did you study?
I did not like Mathematics and, therefore, I chose Biotechnology for graduation. By pre-final year it was clear to me that it was not what I wanted to do in life. Genes and plant dissections were a dread to me and my thoughts led me to food. Yes, I wanted to make a career in the food industry. But it was not an easy decision to carry forward. Not all were convinced with what Arun had decided.
However, for him, an opportunity soon came at his door step. He was selected for a Cornell-Tamil Nadu Agricultural University dual degree masters programme with full scholarship, where he could get degrees in food science and technology (from Cornell) and food processing and management (from TNAU). Arun received a temporary patent for his dissertation on pre-biotic food development. A year in Cornell changed my life. It showed me opportunities in plenitude, he said with pride of having studied in one of the best universities in the world. Back in India, like any engineer, he too was in search of a job.
What was your first job?
Arun landed in ABT Dairy where he was in-charge of product innovation and customer interaction. I worked there for seven months but my thoughts became more specific. I wanted to be in the baking and confectionery side, where I could blend science and creativity. I quit the job and set out in search of avenues. I attended a three-month central government certification course in baking and confectionery science in Bengaluru and thereafter I decided to specialize in confectionery.
How did you get into the chocolate industry?
He had registered his name in the Agri-business Incubator of TNAU which directed Arun to attend a forty-five-day free apprenticeship programme in Belgium under the renowned chocolatier Dominique Persoone. It was the days spent with him that made my mind decide that I was going to become a chocolatier. I learnt from him what all I could actually do with chocolates. Arun had found his calling and there was no going back on thoughts. I was sure to get great offers abroad but I decided to be at my hometown. I have my parents and relatives here and we have a seventy-six-year-old home. I did not want to leave behind all this in pursuit of making my career. Why should I go abroad? You had be tired talking and listening, right? Have this caramel burst, saying which Arun offered an exquisite round chocolate with an intricate design on it. Arun has converted a part of his home’s terrace into his chocolate factory. With machinery from Bengaluru and most raw materials imported from Belgium, he offers chocolates that pleases the Indian palatte. Ganache is an emulsion of cream and chocolate. My aim is to Indianize the concept of Ganache. I learnt making Pralines, the traditional chocolates of Belgium. Usually we have strawberry, raspberry, mint, etc. as flavours. To cater to our Indian palate and offer new, unimaginable chocolate flavours I use saffron, pepper, lemon, turmeric, yoghurt, etc. After all, chocolate is an experience. It is happiness hidden in a small box, said twenty-five-year-old Arun exuding confidence. Ganache is marketed mainly through word of mouth and Facebook. Whenever I make a new flavor I upload it on Facebook and I get orders.
Taking about his further plans, Arun says that he intends to start a cafe. Making people to come here for chocolates alone is a bit difficult initially. I intend to provide coffee, and all possible evening snacks here. But all that will not be made by me. I will continue making chocolates alone. Giving chocolates is like giving blood to a tiger, it is an addiction. I am sure I will make people addicted to my chocolates, he says with a wide smile on his face. (See Ganache’s New Year collection here) I began in June, 2014 and until November my father was not convinced with what I was doing. I did good sales for Diwali and it was this response that made him totally happy with the field I have chosen. That I have not got any negative feedback from my clients is what I consider my success. I have learnt that business and success has no age, but earlier the better. Money and a background is not all that is needed to start something new. Passion and industry comes first. All great achievements require time, said Maya Angelo. Chocolatier Arun Viswanathan is all set to prove that true. His is the story of an engineer who made continuous choices, precise manoeuvre and calculated risks.