Though I’ve met many people who call themselves a “chocolate person,” I recently met someone who, by definition, is exactly that. Ingrid Shim, owner of Sweet Chalet in Anchorage, Alaska, is a chocolatier. She has devoted her life to the art and science of creating desserts and treats with high quality and an intense attention to detail, all while maintaining a delicious taste. The first time I saw some of Ingrid’s creations in her shop they looked so beautiful I couldn’t imagine eating them.
Before sitting down with Ingrid and her husband, Jae, I had never been exposed to the science and art of preparing and working with chocolate. Becoming a chocolatier is a long and demanding road. It takes dedication, practice, and a passion for chocolate that goes beyond the simple enjoyment of eating it.
Ingrid’s serious pursuit of becoming a chocolatier began when she and Jae moved to Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. There, she attended the renowned culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, in Pasadena, California. After receiving her Patisserie and Baking Diploma, Ingrid worked at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and then the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. All the while she was continuing her education and developing her craft even further. She has taken many courses with instructors who have the MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) distinction, which is a very prestigious award given to craftsman in France. She was soon promoted as the SLS Hotel’s chocolatier.
After a few years, Ingrid and Jae were ready for a move. They intended to move west—with only Hawaii or Alaska in their path, they chose Alaska. A year and a half later, Ingrid and Jae are settled nicely in their shop in Anchorage. Sometime soon they hope to expand and move to a location that can better exhibit Ingrid’s work to the public. After talking with Ingrid though, I could tell that any place with a kitchen studio where she could work with her chocolate would make her happy.
Sweet Chalet’s unique quality begins with the first essential ingredient: chocolate. Ingrid wants nothing but the best for her customers. She took the luxury hotel level of quality she was used to in California and has brought that standard to her Anchorage shop. She orders the Felchlin brand from Switzerland, which offers a couverture chocolate. Couverture indicates the quality of the chocolate based on the higher percentage of cocoa butter it contains.
I asked Ingrid what she likes best about working with chocolate and creating desserts. She said it was the whole process, from start to finish. She explained how making desserts and working with chocolate requires a lot of precision, attention to detail, and above all, practice. Putting out a product that is consistent and exactly how she wants it is Ingrid’s primary goal. The journey to reach that kind of consistent perfection is what she loves.
Sweet Chalet | www.sweetchaletalaska.com
Categories: Arts & Culture