A Day in the Life of a Chocolatier

A Day in the Life of a Chocolatier

The hours are long and his subject temperamental, but Alan Pitotti’s not complaining. After 20 years as a chocolatier, he loves what he does.

The graduate of Northampton Community College and the Culinary Institute of America has honed his skills to the point where the chocolates he’s creating are almost too beautiful to eat. He’s been featured on the Food Network and worked at the former Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia and The Hotel Hershey.

Ten years ago, he opened Dolce Patisserie in Hellertown. Pitotti knows some customers stop by his shop for a celebratory treat; others a pick-me-up after a rough day. Either way, he just wants to bring a smile to their faces.

He logs 60, 70, even 90-hour work weeks, but he loves every minute of it.

4:30 a.m.

When some of us are hitting snooze on our alarm clocks, Pitotti, of Center Valley, is starting his day. He aims to be at his shop by 5 a.m., so that he can start making fresh croissants for his customers. He rolls and shapes several dozen chocolate croissants, almond-filled and plain butter croissants, so they’re fresh from the oven when his first customers walk in.

7 a.m.

While the croissants bake, the Pen Argyl native starts on the day’s orders—decorating cakes, baking tarts, and filling or wrapping boxes of chocolates.

8 a.m.

Once he’s filled all the orders, he’s in production mode at the shop. Pitotti will spend the next several hours tempering milk, dark and white chocolate, and preparing molds for the hand-painted, artisan chocolates his shop is known for. He also sets to work on making the ganaches and seasonal fillings. Making chocolates sounds easy, but Pitotti says high-quality chocolate is very temperamental. “There’s a science to it.” A single batch can take up to four hours, he says. And if it doesn’t come out right, Pitotti knows he’s lost time and money, and still has to redo the work.

9 a.m.

Pitotti will be in production mode well into the afternoon, but by 9 a.m., the door opens to the day’s customers. He’ll go seamlessly between prepping the chocolates to answering phones, waiting on customers and taking orders. From Thursday through Saturday his mom joins him at the shop to wait on customers and fill orders. Pitotti’s wife pitches in for the holiday rush—in addition to her own hectic work schedule. The holiday months—specifically November, December, and February—are when Pitotti’s hours inch closer to 90. It’s the one downside for a chocolatier. “The times of year when people need chocolate are always when you want to be with your own family and friends,” he says.

1 p.m.

After a long morning, Pitotti rewards himself with a 10-minute lunch, often ordering a sandwich from neighboring DiMaio’s Italian Ristorante & Pizzeria. “Then I’m right back at it, painting molds for the next day’s chocolates.”

2 p.m.

He knows he needs to leave himself an hour to work on his French macarons, which are available Fridays and Saturdays, or by custom order. Customers will find four choices each week, seasonal flavors like Strawberries & Cream or Salted Caramel, mixed in with perennial favorites, Chocolate, Pistachio or S’mores.

3:30 p.m.

For the remainder of his day, Pitotti works ahead on the next day’s orders. He bakes cakes so they’re cooled and ready to be assembled and decorated the following day. He starts on his chocolate bark and nougats. And he’ll make large sheets of the toffee that helped him win $10,000 on Food Network’s “Sweet Genius” competition in 2013.

6 p.m.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Dolce closes by 4 p.m., but other nights the door’s open until 6 p.m. (On a good day, Pitotti is wrapping up his work by 6:30 or 7 p.m., but the holidays are a different story.)

7 p.m.

By 7, he’s heading home to enjoy dinner with his wife and relaxes by watching a hockey game with her.

9:30 p.m.

Some nights he finds himself ordering ingredients for the shop. But once a week, he turns into a night owl and heads out around 9:30 or 10 p.m. to play in a hockey league. Those nights his head doesn’t hit the pillow until 1 a.m., and he’ll catch a few hours before heading back to Dolce.

But he’s still back at it first thing the next day. What gets him out of bed each morning and what he loves about his job is seeing his customers’ reactions. “I love the joy that it brings people.”




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