How sweet it is

HRSM student learns the chocolate business with an internship at a local shop

Jocelyn Linder has quite possibly the sweetest gig a college student could hope for — an internship with a startup company that specializes in handmade artisan chocolates.

No, she’s not getting paid in bonbons or truffles. The hospitality management sophomore is gaining valuable experience in business know-how and commercial food preparation. Her sights are set on eventually becoming a pastry chef.

“If I ever want to run my own business, it’s important to know more than just how to make the food,” says Linder.

Her boss and mentor, Christina Miles, started Bruges Chocolaterie about 18 months ago in Columbia. Although she attended Howard University and Johnson and Wales University, Miles has a Gamecock pedigree — her parents are both alumni — and she turned to the Moore School of Business’ entrepreneurship program for student and faculty expertise to advance her business.

“It was an opportunity for them to see what it’s like when a business is starting out from scratch. They helped me design a logo, come up with the name of the company and research places where I could market chocolates,” Miles says. “And they ate a lot of chocolate along the way because I was trying out different recipes.”

Linder assists Miles every Friday in tempering large chocolate bricks imported from France and Belgium. They heat the chocolate to 85 degrees, then gradually cool it on marble slabs to create a glossy-smooth texture. The two then paint molds with colored cocoa butter and add flavorings to create several styles of elegant chocolates.

Want to learn to make your own chocolate candy? Linder and Miles are offering a class March 24 at 6 p.m. at Bruges Chocolaterie on making gourmet marshmallows, dark chocolate dipped candied orange peel and chocolate baskets filled with fresh strawberries and cream.

“I definitely want to learn more about chocolate,” Linder says. “Christina is a great teacher — she knows everything about making chocolate.”

Linder is hoping to continue the internship through the rest of her time at Carolina, except for next spring when she plans to study abroad in France. She hopes to learn about France’s baking and pastry-making traditions. For now, she’s busy learning the chocolate business and trying not to sample too much of the product.

“I usually stop myself from eating it by buying some for family and friends and enjoying it vicariously through them,” Linder says. 

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