Street Fair, Part I

Preparations for NYC Street fair

There have been many stressful and hair raising situations regarding the start up of our business. As one can imagine things rarely go according to plan, but luckily they often times seem to work out. That was the story of our Saturday. Saturday before our big street fair in New York everything was set to go. Our machines had arrived, our equipment was in place, our production facility was spick and span, our ingredients were ready to be happily dunked into the chocolate bars they would call home. There was just one problem, electricity. Our electrician had a series of family emergencies and was not able to come out to our factory during the week. Our machines are fairly complicated electrically. They are European and need to be rewired for American standards. They also run on whats called 3 phase electricity. Three phase is a highly efficient way of powering larger equipment with motors etc. So everything was set up but we could not hook up our tempering machines which are obviously key to our ability to make chocolate. We were familiar with machines as we had used them before in Europe so we were confident once they were hooked up we would be well on our way to making lots and lots of excellent chocolate for New Yorkers to devour. We had 600 bars of chocolate to make before the street fair the next day, and as things stood our only machine we had hooked up was our small machine dedicated to production of white chocolate which could only produce four bars at a time. Sufficed to say if we didn’t get our large tempering machines hooked up we were in for an all nighter equal to those of our college days (Eric was a big paper procrastinator).

Our electrician arrived and began to start hooking up our “phase converter” which converts the local single phase electricity into the three phase which would efficiently power our large tempering machines. Things were plugging along nicely and then a new scare came up. The electrician feared that our machines may require too much energy and that our factory would turn off the lights of the other offices and facilities around us. This was not going to be a good option. We were told we might be able to run one machine but in order to run two we would have to sink thousands of additional dollars into increasing our power supply from the town, a process which would take weeks. Not exactly what you wanted to hear the night before our first big chocolate sale. Time was ticking and Nick was getting worried. After many back of the envelope calculations our electrician thought it could be done and we decided to give it a whirl. One machine worked… time to try the second. The breakers were switched on, the phase converter hummed and the tempering machines were switched on whilst an emotionally fragile Nick trembled with nervous anticipation. Eric stood stoically observing the situation with the cool confidence of a veteran of the custom chocolate industry. The LCD displays on the machines both came to life, illuminating our state of the art factory with their blue glow! Things were looking good.

“Thanks a lot” we said to the electrician “now its time to make some chocolate”! It was 1pm. As mentioned earlier we had worked with a version of these machines before so we were familiar with them and we thought we were ready to get right into things. However once all the equipment was set up the display was unresponsive. For whatever reason the machines were ignoring our commands. Was it because they did not respect Nick? Did they need an alpha male to tell them what to do? No such luck Eric had the same result. Hours passed, buttons pressed and pressed some more… nothing. Even Eric was starting to get worried. It was now 6pm and we still had 550 perfect chocolate bars to churn out with love for Sunday’s street fair. Getting the machine to work was complicated by the fact that the manual which came with it was  in Italian only. Not one member of the Chocomize staff speaks Italian. Some Spanish, German, Arabic, French maybe even a little English but no one speaks Italian. After trying every possible button combination etc Eric placed a small magnet that came with the machines by the side of the tempering basin. Open Sesame! The machine’s LCD display told us our wish was their command. Apparently the magnet was a safety device installed recently to prevent machines starting without proper protection. A new addition we were not familiar with. Perhaps a response to the recent death in Pennsauken New Jersey where a man fell into a vat of chocolate. Whatever the reason for the device it was critical for our machinery. We poured in our chocolate, heated it up and began the tempering process. Our factory was transformed rather quickly from a place of anxiety to Willy Wonka’s with the tempering machine’s fountains gushing veritable waterfalls of chocolate. Now we could get down to business. Earnestly we created chocolate, added ingredients, moulded the chocolate, cooled it down and then packaged the chocolate for the fair. By 1.30am we had finished and now we were packing the chocolate into the truck and heading off on the 2 hour drive from Philadelphia to New York!

To be continued…


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