Crafting Success

Alum bites into a career at a craft chocolate factory

In 2006, Columbia-based chocolate maker Alan “Patric” McClure turned his passion for fine chocolate into his own chocolate company, Patric. Since then Patric Chocolate has been featured in Gourmet Magazine, The New Yorker Online, Los Angeles Times, the Kansas City Star and other publications.

Patric Chocolate makes their craft chocolate from bean to bar in their Columbia facility. Their chocolate includes traditional and unique chocolate flavors such as PBJ OMG, Mocha OMG, Cappuccino OMG, Salty Signature Seventy and In-NIB-itable (chocolate on one side and crunchy cocoa nibs on the other).

Following graduation last year, CAFNR alum Sara Trikenskas, B.A. Hotel and Restaurant Management ’11, began working at Patric’s chocolate-making facility. CAFNR recently talked with Trikenskas about working at Patric and her time at CAFNR.

CAFNR Alum Sara Trikenskas

Q: Can you provide background on how you became involved with Patric?
A: After graduating in May, I was just about on my way out of Columbia when I saw the job listing for Patric Chocolate online. After doing pastries and using chocolate for years at the University Club, the thought of learning to actually make chocolate seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime.

Can you describe what you do at Patric? Typical day?
This may come as no surprise that as a craft chocolate maker, I make craft chocolate, ha ha. However, very few people realize the amount of work that goes into what we do at Patric. A typical day here is filled with multiple labor intensive tasks. Since we are a bean to bar chocolate company we do every single step of the chocolate making process (with the exclusion of actually growing the beans) in our factory. Apart from making some of the best chocolate in the country, we also play a lot of poker at lunch. Ha!

What are the plans and goals for Patric?
I feel privileged to work for this company, for several reasons, but mostly because we are at such an explosive period in our business. We are so small (a total of five people) so it’s so easy to see our successes and triumphs. We’ve gotten write ups from publications such as Forbes, Food and Wine, and many others. Plus, we’ve won several Good Food Awards, and frankly, business is booming. I’m truly eager to see the awesome things we will be doing in the next few years and the places it will take us.

What are some challenges you have faced regarding your time at Patric?
Becoming a morning person, ha! Honestly, the biggest challenge was adjusting to working with such a small number of people. The amount of work each person does is substantial, so it’s essential everyone is at their best all of the time.

What is your favorite part about working at Patric?
I feel truly grateful for the fact that I’m only 24 years old and I found a job that I not only enjoy going to, but love doing. Some people never find that, and I was fortunate enough to get it on the first try.

Did you ever see yourself at Patric? Was it part of your plan?
Honestly, I didn’t know much about Patric Chocolate, and I had no idea the best chocolate in the country was being made in the same town I lived in. I was actually on my way out of Columbia, so it definitely wasn’t part of my plan, but I believe I was kept here for a reason.

What is your favorite Patric chocolate bar?
It’s ever changing; part of my job is I taste chocolate every day (rough life, I know), but currently I’d say it’s our Madagascar 67 percent.

How has CAFNR influenced your career?
CAFNR has taught me the importance of networking, and frankly that hard work does not go unnoticed.

What is your favorite CAFNR memory?
I have so many great memories; some of the best include a trip to Chicago for the NRA (National Restaurant Association) show. Also, I hate to admit it, but I had some amazing times in our dinner series capstone. It was the most intense and ridiculous challenge I faced in all of college, but when it’s all said and done it was a great reality check and we all survived.

What piece advice would you give students?
I’d say be the absolute best employee you can be at whatever job you have. Though sometimes it’s difficult to believe, hard work does not go unnoticed. If the work and effort you are putting forth isn’t being recognized, work harder.

To find out more about Patric Chocolate, visit