We had the good fortune of connecting with Zach Townsend and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zach, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
As a chocolatier, I had long pursued opening my own chocolate shop in Dallas since Dallas was lacking in the level of chocolate shop I felt it needed. I had made several strides toward reaching that goal. I worked as a private chocolatier, worked with restaurants developing chocolate dessert recipes, sold my own chocolate desserts to restaurants wholesale, and sold products retail. However, I had become interested in writing, too. I began writing for a dessert industry magazine and was also interested in cookbooks. In the mid 2000s I began working with prolific baking author Rose Levy Beranbaum on one of her cookbook projects. I eventually was asked by a major US publisher to translate a cookbook by Larousse from French to English, leading to several more cookbook deals among major publishers in France and the US: this then began another path in my career in food and diverted me away from my chocolate shop plans. Because my experience in chocolate had spanned several years and in a wide variety of ways, I wanted to stay in the kitchen and keep developing recipes and working with chocolate, so my idea was to pass my experience and knowledge of chocolate along to others through fun chocolate-centric classes and activities. This is how Dallas Chocolate Classes was born. It began in 2011 and has grown every year.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Since becoming a chocolatier, my proudest accomplishment has been starting Dallas Chocolate Classes with the hope of not only teaching and enlightening others about the wonderful world of chocolate but also hopefully inspiring the career of others. I’ve spoken in front of and taught many kids, so my hope is to have inspired at least a few of them by awakening an interest in something they may not have been aware of. I may never know if someone chose a path later in life because of something I taught them, but I like to believe that will be the case. I love being part of peoples’ celebrations too — birthday parties, anniversaries, etc. When someone asks me to host an event for their group as a celebration, it’s an honor to be asked and to be part of that. I feel I’ve carved out a very specific niche that was a result of many circumstances and experiences over many years. My brand represents a unique people-focused experience and my story represents one that shows how you can piece together a lifetime of experience into a unique career you never knew was possible.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would first take them shopping. Dallas has great shopping! Neiman Marcus downtown, Northpark Mall, HIghland Park Village. For dinner, we would eat a Bruno Davaillon’s Bullion in downtown, Sachet in Highland Park, Bistro 31 in Highland Park Village, Knife for steak, and/or Rapscallion for an eclectic mix. For lunch we’d have to choose from one of the many awesome casual places for hamburgers around Dallas and of course Tex-Mex is a must have, so we’d go to one of the many taco joint options. For drinks, we’d hang out at the Honor Bar in Highland Park or R+D Kitchen for some fun people watching. For a taste of cowtown, a trip over to the Stockyards in Fort Worth is a must, then we’d head to the arts district in Downtown Dallas to the museum and hopefully get tickets to a performance at the Meyerson. I wouldn’t want them to miss the unique park of Klyde Warren, so we’d walk from the museum to the park for a nice stroll, some people watching, and maybe some lunch at a food truck. For a sweet treat, we’d head over to BisousBisous pâtisserie for a croissant and coffee.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My career has been inspired by many! This includes other chocolatiers (Robert Linxe, Jean-Paul Hévin as examples). Equally, baking authors Rose Levy Beranbaum and Tish Boyle have supported and inspired me and helped shape who I’ve become. I’d also like to thank my publishers for trusting and believing in me.