One AITC alum’s sweet journey

Chocolate making is a culinary art. It requires technique, an eye for detail, and creativity. Australian Industry Trade College (AITC) alum Alicia Chapman, who graduated from the Gold Coast campus with a head start on an apprenticeship in commercial cookery, has found success with her craft, establishing her own artisan chocolate business inspired by her international experiences.

Following her apprenticeship on the coast, Alicia moved to Melbourne for a few years to gain valuable experience at a high-end hospitality venue and a Melbourne chocolate company. She then made the decision to make a much bigger move – to Germany! “I decided to move predominately for the excitement of living overseas, but also as a challenge for my career,” says Alicia. “I was working in a Greek/Portuguese bakery, which was an exciting mix of cuisines. I also spent some time learning chocolate making at the Chocolate Academy in Cologne.”

Despite carving her own path to business owner, Alicia credits the AITC for developing her entrepreneurial qualities and providing unmatched practical learning experiences.

“The AITC was a great school in preparing us for work and life. There was a level of responsibility and maturity that came from being an AITC student,” says Alicia. “That, combined with the practical exposure and great mentors from the school, convinced me to aim high and go after my dreams.” And aim high she did.

Alicia moved back to the Gold Coast with a plan, inspired by her overseas travel. “After spending time overseas and in Melbourne, I realised that the Gold Coast was lacking some specialty chocolate businesses,” she said. So she set up her own artisan chocolate business, Little Cocoa.

“Little Cocoa came about after finding a bean-to-bar chocolate shop in Berlin. This is where the chocolatier sources the cocoa beans, usually direct from the cocoa farmers, then roasts, winnows, and grinds the beans into their own signature chocolate,” said Alicia. “Because they control the process, it means that they can toy with the flavours in the beans and create something truly unique. I really loved the whole concept of this and it was the inspiration for getting Little Cocoa up and running.”

Alicia has continued to create and deliver her delicious chocolates during COVID-19 lockdowns but says the pandemic definitely threw her a curveball. “A lot of our business came from corporate businesses, often looking for branded client gifts, so that really came to a halt as soon as COVID happened,” says Alicia. “We also had weddings booked this year, but luckily they’ve just been rescheduled for a later date. This pandemic pushed us to drive our retail sales, so that’s been the main focus for us for the last few months.”

The AITC is proud to have entrepreneurial and driven alumni like Alicia. She is just one example of taking a career in industry in a unique and successful direction!

If you are looking for a local business to support on the Gold Coast, check out Little Cocoa.