The TCHO Pro Initiative: Meet the Pros

Any chef will tell you their creations are only as good as the ingredients they choose. For many chefs, tiny nuances in flavor - like floral or nutty notes in chocolate - impart a substantial set of consideration for dishes, from savory to sweet. Knowing that chefs are choosy about their chocolate led us to develop a program, called TCHO Pro, that champions chefs’ creativity, flavor preferences, and carefully honed skill in their kitchens and their craft. 

We’d like to introduce the first TCHO Pro class: Ethel Koh, Jessica Craig, David Rodriguez, and Russell Jackson. All four are creative movers and shakers from across the country who appreciate the complexities of chocolate in their work and experiment with intriguing flavors in new ways.

We hope these chefs inspire the world’s chefs, hobby bakers, brewers, baristas, manufacturers, and chocolate enthusiasts. As part of the TCHO Pro initiative, these professionals learned all about TCHO flavor development, the care and consideration we take in sourcing chocolate at origin and the impact that flavor can have on their dishes and desserts. They’ll also get to make and create with a lot of chocolate. 

Their journey started (virtually) in Berkeley, California, home to our factory and where cacao beans come to TCHO from all around the world. Chefs were trained in the Flavor Lab by our Chief Chocolate Maker Brad Kintzer - and yes, they got to taste everything from 39% milk chocolate to 99% unsweetened cacao. Next, we joined (virtually again) our chocolate farmers and partners in their home countries to learn about the deep relationships that TCHO has cultivated at origin to help farmers earn a better living and consistently produce the best beans year after year. Laura Sweitzer, the TCHO Source program director, illustrated how sharing this knowledge with farmers, cooperative members, and agronomists (soil and crop experts),  at origin impacts quality and therefore improves flavor profiles and consistency. Armed with this knowledge, our TCHO Pros will share  their ideas and recipes with our community.

We hope you will take some time to learn about the personal interests and passions of our TCHO Pros. They are excited to share their creative recipes and guidance for working with not just chocolate couvertures, but with our whole line of professional chocolate (and sometimes a retail bar or two…). Stay tuned for their chocolate creations, dynamic tutorials and TCHO Pro tips!s. This is just the beginning of a culinary collective of TCHO Chocolate enthusiasts around the world.

Welcome, Ethel, Jessica, David, and Russell!

Ethel Koh
Pastry Chef, Ittoryu Gozu, San Francisco 

Ethel Koh

Singapore-native Ethel Koh started baking as a hobby while working as a registered nurse. At a crossroads with her career, she took a job at a bakery and soon discovered that baking was her passion. 

She earned a degree in food business management from the Culinary Institute of America in Singapore, then moved to California to train under Chef Marc Zimmerman at Alexander’s Steakhouse and Pastry Chef Joshua Gaulin at Quince. Koh now incorporates Japanese ingredients with hints of nostalgia into her desserts as pastry chef at Gozu, where she once again works with Chef Zimmerman.

Recipe: Chocolate Coffee Caramel Tart (made with TCHO Natural Cocoa Powder + TCHO 68% Dark Chocolate)

Jessica Craig
Pastry Chef, Almond, New York

Jessica CraigAfter graduating from New York Institute of Technology with a Culinary Arts Degree and a BPS in Hospitality Management, Jessica Craig dove right into pastry. She worked with Belgian Master Chef Steven de Bruyn at Garden City Hotel, then honed her skills at various restaurants on Long Island before finding herself at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton. Craig began working as a Pastry Sous Chef in 2008 and ran the dessert program for the Honest Man Restaurant Group until 2013. She went on to work for Altamarea Group, an international airline catering company, and Noho Hospitality with Locanda Verde Restaurant at the Greenwich Hotel. In 2017, she became Executive Pastry Chef at L’Artusi Restaurant in New York, where she oversaw the pastry program for Epicurean Group until moving to Almond, a seasonal, market-driven bistro this summer.

Recipe: Chocolate Pudding (made with TCHO 54% Dark Milk Chocolate)

David Rodriguez
Chef, Owner, Büho Bakery, Nevada City, Calif.

David Rodriguez

Rodriguez was raised in Southern California, where Mexican cuisine was influential in his life. He earned his Patisserie and Baking certificate at The Le Cordon Bleu program at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. Rodriguez has trained under Chef Michael Cimarusti and Adrian Vasquez at Providence in Los Angeles, Chef Jordan Kahn at XIV by Michael Mina and Michael Mina’s Corporate Chef Lincoln Carson. Rodriguez also helped open Red Medicine with Chef Jordan Kahn, acting as both Pastry and Sous Chef. In 2011, Rodriguez returned to Providence as Executive Pastry Chef, earning a StarChefs Rising Star Pastry Chef Award in 2014. He took a leap of faith and moved to Nevada City in 2019 to open Bü-ho Bakery, where he meticulously makes everything from scratch in a small convection oven.

Recipe: Chocolate Swirl Bread (made with TCHO Natural Cocoa Powder, TCHO Roasted Cacao Nibs + TCHO 81% Dark Chocolate)

Russell Jackson
Owner, Chef, Reverence, New York

Russell Jackson

A culinary innovator and a noted African-American chef in California cuisine, Russell Jackson is the Owner and Chef of Harlem’s fine dining restaurant, Reverence. Following graduation from the California Culinary Academy, Jackson opened his first restaurant, Russell's, in Los Angeles. In 1999, he moved to San Francisco to head James Beard-nominated Black Cat restaurant. Jackson achieved notoriety and amassed a cult following through his seminal restaurant creation, SubCulture Dining, a radical underground supper-club. SubCulture Dining, known by devotees as SCD, broke culinary boundaries and earned Jackson his reputation as the Dissident Chef. Emerging from the underground scene, Jackson would go on to open Lafitte in San Francisco in 2009. He moved to New York City in 2013 and opened the doors to Reverence in 2019. Jackson has appeared on “SF Chefs,” “Iron Chef America” battling Chef Jose Garces, and in the Food Network Kitchens, competing for the title of Food Network Star, and starring in “Off the Menu” on BravoTV.

Recipe: Blue Corn Hot Cocoa (made with TCHO Drinking Chocolate Crumbles)

In 2021, as the TCHO Pro initiative expands, a new “class” of chefs will come on board to create a network of chocolate enthusiasts from across the food & beverage industry. If you think you are a fit for our culinary collective, apply to be a TCHO Pro here!