Chocolatier Frederic Loraschi takes multifaceted approach
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Outliers,” contends that to become “world-class” in any field, one must engage in 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice.”
Although his conclusion has been the subject of some debate over the years, there’s no denying that Frederic Loraschi has put in his time.
The nationally recognized, Dauphin County-based chocolatier began learning about the rigors of the restaurant business at a young age.
“When you turn 14 years old in France, they ask you what you want to do and for me it was always cooking,” said Loraschi.
Soon after making the decision, Loraschi was spending three weeks in a kitchen for every one week at school. The seeds had been sown.
“For me it sparked an inspiration. The apprenticeship program was transformative,” he said.
Loraschi used what he learned as a student to make strides in the restaurant industry working in Michelin-starred kitchens in his native France, as well as in Luxembourg, Singapore and Germany.
Soon he set his sights on the U.S., honing his craft in restaurants in California and Boston before he was recruited by the Hotel Hershey. It needed a highly skilled pastry chef and Loraschi, with a young family, was ready to settle down. It didn’t hurt that the area reminded him of his childhood home of Gascony, France.
Eventually Loraschi decided it was time to exert more control over his own destiny and Loraschi Chocolates was born. The company, which employs six people, makes a range of fine chocolate products using ingredients from around the world.
The chocolatier worked out of his home for a decade before deciding to expand. He weighed the idea of moving into a larger city and even explored the Lancaster area before settling on a bright, airy, 5,000-square-foot space in Colonial Park in 2015.
“First and foremost, I had to take the cost of real estate into consideration. Secondly, I didn’t want to lease. I needed the freedom to customize,” he said.
Another attraction for Loraschi was the location. “I can sell and serve the product around here, but it’s also centrally located to big cities. We can ship to New York via UPS for second-day delivery,” he said.
“We are fortunate to have him in our area,” said Curtis Vreeland, president of Vreeland & Associates, a company in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County, specializing in confectionery market research. “He is on trend with what’s occurring in the premium chocolate world, from single-origin to fair trade and sustainably produced products — these are all hot-button issues for millennials.”
Loraschi’s commitment to excellence includes being ever present in his shop to oversee all aspects of production — except when he’s conducting chocolate seminars out of state. Trust is important to Loraschi, who expects his staff to commit to the excellence he demands from himself.
“I want people who are serious about the craft and tell them that every day here is the Super Bowl and we need to go big or go home,” he said.
The businessman especially enjoys the educational aspect of working with the public.
“People might come to my shop and say that they don’t like dark chocolate. I can introduce them to a good piece of dark chocolate and the story behind it. That is why I wanted to have contact with the customer,” said Loraschi.
Vreeland agrees that education is important so that customers in the area are aware of what’s available here. “He offers Central Pennsylvania consumers European-quality confections and a premium alternative to the products that are currently available in the area, from truffles and bars, to nougat and caramels,” said Vreeland.
Loraschi knows his chocolate and can wax philosophical about single origin, terroir and the flavor characteristics of each region and the intricacies of such things as fermentation, describing it as the most important step in making chocolate.
“It must be done on the plantation, within three days after harvesting the pod. You must have control over that aspect of production,” he said.
In some instances, Loraschi pairs up with others to purchase product from a single plantation. “Say there are three tons available, I’ll take a ton, and two others will each take a ton.”
This is why Loraschi makes it his duty to know his purveyors and why he’s generated trust among his clientele, which include hotels, spas, country clubs and even celebrities, despite his small advertising budget. “You cannot compete against Hershey and Godiva when it comes to advertising,” he said.
The businessman, who, in 2011, was designated as one of the top 10 chocolatiers by Dessert Professional magazine, competes each year in the World Chocolate Masters Competition, which Curtis Vreeland describes as “the chocolate Olympics.”
Loraschi is the first person to say that he’s not chasing celebrity, however, “I wouldn’t be in Harrisburg if I were chasing fame,” he said. At the end of the day, a job well done is the salary of the soul.