By Maddison Jaggars
I looked at the colorful array of winter-themed cocoa butter bottles, transfer sheets and molds being packed into boxes and making their way to the shipping dock at Chef Rubber headquarters. Before my very eyes, the holiday season was here, earlier than it’s felt in previous years.
Winter is a time that can make or break a business, and pastry chefs will do everything they can to stay on top of the cutting-edge trends and designs. Finding ways to increase production and stay efficient – while maintaining a social media approved aesthetic – are all factors that culinary artists face. It’s no secret that the word “labor” is often associated with “shortage” these days. The search for tools that remedy these problems are being researched and developed by master chefs and chocolatiers all over the world. Chef Luis Amado is one of them.
Chef Amado’s foray into the culinary world began at the age of 16, selling churros in the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico. As a young man, he made the move to the U.S. to pursue an education in culinary arts. In 1992, he graduated from Grand Rapids Community College, and not long after, traveled to Belgium where he worked to develop his knowledge of classical European pastry and chocolate.
As a long-time user and advocate of Chef Rubber products, especially our colored cocoa butter, Chef Amado constantly astounds us with his creative use of colorants. In recent years he has been working on developing an innovative tool that is changing the way bonbons are decorated. The EasyPaint Stencil™ is the solution to taping methods and handmade stencils, allowing chocolate artists to create beautifully designed chocolate shells without worrying about time constraints and manpower.
The spark of ignition happened back in 2018. Longtime friend and fellow chocolatier Charles Golczynski (a.k.a. “Smitty”) of Mokaya Chocolates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, reached out to Chef Amado, asking if he could produce a custom stencil using his technology at the university. He had already been in search of a more efficient way of decorating molds. As an experienced chocolatier, Luis tried numerous design applications and styles of stencils. Knowing how time consuming many of them could be, the ‘A-ha!’ moment came when friend Jason Senatore, who was working at the university with Luis, brought him a stencil made of soft plastic to try. Chef Amado took the concept to his friends at Greyas Chocolate Molds in Turkey, where the development of his EasyPaint Stencil™ came to fruition at the end of 2022.
Working with the Greyas Mold team, Chef Amado drew inspiration for the stencils from his love of technical drawings and architecture. From the Fibonacci sequence to simple crisp geometrics, the goal for Amado was always to create a stencil that not only produces beautiful artwork but also saves time for chocolatiers. The EasyPaint™ Stencil System allows for consistency at a rapid pace to produce decorated bonbons, as well as more creativity without being labor intensive.
Chef Amado believes that the future of chocolate still resides in the principle that, “People eat with their eyes first.” Chocolatiers want to spend more time not just on the recipe formulation, but also on the presentation of their bonbons. A bold statement will come from colored cocoa butters used in the form of patterns and textures. Chef Amado is currently working with the Chef Rubber and Greyas teams on creating more unique stencils for the industry. One thing is for certain when it comes to Chef Luis Amado, we can expect to see more innovations on the horizon.
Photos by Jason Senatore Photography, courtesy of the Luis Amado Chocolate Academy.
(This article appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)