OUR FOUNDATION MEMBERS:
Pocrass and chocolates made for the Hard Rock Cafe.
youve ever been served a banquet dessert that made
you say "Wow," you probably gave the pastry chef
all of the credit. Most likely, youd only be partly
Just ask Rick Pocrass.
Chances are, the mousse, ice cream, fruit or cake that you
loved so much was served atop an artistic chocolate dessert
container made by Chocolates à la Carte. Pocrass is
the CEO of that Valencia-based company. He is also vice president
of the Mission College Foundation.
According to Pocrass, nearly every major hotel in the country
makes at least one buy a year from his company for a big banquet
or dinner. Other major clients include country clubs and cruise
lines. He explained that a pastry or hotel chef who has to
prepare a banquet for hundreds of people might have a great
idea for a chocolate-based dessert, but he doesnt have
the means to prepare that much chocolate.
"Thats where we come in," he said. "We
work with the chefs to help them realize their creative vision.
I always say we dont make chocolates, we make wow.
The dessert containers come in a multitude of designs and
shapes: a leaf, piano, flower, heart, or teardrop for example.
Often, theyre created to match an event. Those attending
an athletic banquet might be served a dessert featuring a
fruit-filled chocolate football helmet or baseball cap. While
Pocrass handles the business side of Chocolates a la Carte,
wife Rena, founder and president of the company, works the
creative end, dealing with chefs around the country who call
her for ideas. To make it all work, the company has become
one of the largest importers of dark chocolate in the country
700,000 pounds a year, Pocrass estimated.
à la Carte serves every major hotel in the
U.S., Pocrass said.
to the companys move to Valencia in 2000, Chocolates
à la Carte was based in Sylmar. Pocrass came to know
Mission College as a result of working with the Careers Through
Culinary Arts Program and through acquaintances, including
Chef Rudy Garcia. He joined the Foundation in 1996 and enjoys
being part of the mission of community colleges.
"Im a big believer in community-based education,"
he said. "As a Foundation member, I try to use my industry
knowledge to help the college's culinary program."
Pocrass dream for Mission College is to see "
and more students graduate and go on to earn four-year degrees."
BY EDUARDO PARDO
Photo: Lydia Chung