People

Rachel McKinley

i. I work as a Master Chocolatier for Purdys Chocolatier and an independent Confectionery Consultant.

ii. I do this creative work because:
Feeding people delicious things is one of the most fulfilling, joy inducing acts a human has to give.

iii. A ‘typical’ day for me in the pandemic involves:
Getting up to head to the Purdys Chocolatier Factory Kitchen where I work on creating new flavours and products, troubleshooting production challenges, and educating all members of our Purdys teams and the public about the joys of chocolate. When I come home I love to relax with my two fluffy cats and my amazing husband. I also try to paint, draw, dance or write every day. We take turns cooking dinner and our evening meals are a highlight of every day. We live right on the Fraser River and we try to walk along the river every day together to end the day.

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iv. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
Curiosity and creativity, a willingness to fail, and a deep commitment to collaboration.

v. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
When my vision exceeds our ability to execute. In my day job we have certain infrastructure that doesn’t always support what I would love to create for our customers, which is just a reality for any manufacturing environment.

vi. Creative childhood hobbies:
I was a HUGE reader in childhood, and still am. I was also a competitive figure skater until my early twenties, and I channeled my creativity into movement. But I didn’t start to cook, make chocolate, paint and draw until I was in university.

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vii. Show, podcasts, books that I’m into right now:
I just finished the short drama series Lupin on Netflix – it is wonderfully shot, full of drama but not overly violent, and is playful while being about crime. It’s also set in Paris, which is (so far) my favourite city in the whole world. I’m reading The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, which is an amazing tale of a Georgian family from pre-Bolshevik Revolution to today. It is an incredible read. My list of podcasts is absurdly long, but my go-tos are RadioLab, This American Life, and 99% Invisible.

viii. Training that has helped me in this career:
I was a competitive figure skater as a kid, and I feel that the dedication to practice and craft really helped me develop a sense for perseverance. I worked as a paramedic in my early 20’s, which helped me discover what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life! In university I studied microbiology, biochemistry and English literature, which helped me to understand the science of food, and English helped me to be a strong and creative communicator.

Finally, I studied painting and drawing at Emily Carr as an adult, and that has helped me so much with the visual side of my work. I studied chocolate first online ate ecolechocolat.com, where I have now been a tutor and instructor for over a decade, and I have travelled all over the world to advance my chocolate training. I was also fortunate enough to have some amazing mentors in the chocolate field, and their guidance and love for me was more valuable than any formal training I have done.

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ix. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
Doing too much too soon. Many chocolatiers want to open their own business and they jump in without a good plan. Knowing what you want and making a clear plan to get there is invaluable!

x. Some proud career moments:
I recently appeared on the Food Network’s “Great Chocolate Showdown” alongside Canadian culinary icon Anna Olson. I have been asked to speak to Vancouver’s creative community via Creative Mornings more than once. Running my own business for ten years. Meeting my husband at a work meeting and eventually training him to be a chocolatier too! Getting to travel to Denmark, France, Germany and many more countries to further training and on research trips. Every time we launch a new product at Purdys and it gets sold all over the country.

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xi. Upcoming shows or events include:
Watch for me on a future Food Network show – can’t be more specific quite yet 🙂

xii. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
Taste all the chocolate, master the foundational art of tempering chocolate, and check out ecolechocolat.com

xiii. A professional goal I have for the future:
More tv and more travel, and of course, more delicious chocolates

xiv. If you want to see my work, go to: www.purdys.com

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www.creatorsvancouver.com

Photos courtesy of Purdys Chocolatier

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