Andrew Schotts ’90, Pastry Chef
To chocoholics, working with the “food of the gods” all day seems like the fantasy job. But to become an exceptional artisan chocolatier like Andrew Shotts ’90, it takes a tireless passion for your work, a commitment to using only the best ingredients, and a sharp eye for business.
Andrew’s road to twice becoming one of Pastry Art & Design’s “Ten Best Pastry Chefs in America” started with a culinary arts degree and a love of cooking. After graduating with honors from the CIA, he moved to New York to work in an Italian restaurant before heading to Italy and the Locanda Dell’Amorosa. “I worked at the hotel for free, six days a week,” he says. “The chef taught me to make all eight of their desserts, and that’s what I did for a year.” While in the hotel pastry kitchen, Andrew used seasonal produce from the Tuscan estate’s orchards and began experimenting with desserts and chocolates that used these ingredients, laying the creative foundation for what would ultimately become Garrison Confections.
Andrew next took a sous chef position in his hometown of Huntsville, AL. “I realized then that my true love was pastry,” he says. “And for that, all the action was in New York City.” So he moved back to Manhattan and honed his skills at La Côte Basque, Lutèce, as executive pastry chef at the newly re-opened Russian Tea Room—and on his own. Andrew started by calling famed pastry chef Jacques Torres his first day back in the city. “While I was in New York, I made it my mission to meet every chef I could,” he says. “I would do whatever I had to to get my foot in the door of the kitchen of every famous chef. I did that for years.” Andrew also would travel to France to work alongside renowned pastry champions. “I was trying to learn everything I could. That’s something that I picked up from the chefs at the CIA. They would say, ‘Be a sponge.'”
Following positions as executive pastry chef for New York landmarks La Côte Basque and the Russian Tea Room, Andrew became corporate pastry chef for San Francisco-based Guittard Chocolate Company, where he helped develop the E. Guittard line of high-end couverture chocolate. Inspired by the experience, Andrew decided the time was right to launch his own line of artisanal chocolates. In 2001, he and his wife, Tina Wright, opened Garrison Confections in New York, moving the operations to Central Falls, RI less than two years later. In November 2006, Andrew moved his company into a newly renovated, 8,000-square-foot space; launched his book Making Artisan Chocolates at the Chocolate Show in New York City; and began the busy holiday season, when Garrison Confections does about 50% of its annual sales. In 2007, Andrew was named “Hottest Chocolatier” in America by The Food Network at the Food Network’s Awards show in South Beach. With accolades from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Food & Wine, and Rachel Ray as the “go-to” authority on chocolate in America, Andrew has clearly raised the bar for all other chocolatiers.
A typical day for Andrew starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. “We average nine to 10 hours a day, six days a week,” he says. “A lot of places are only open five days a week, but I’ve been working six days since 1987. I enjoy doing what I do. My best advice to someone considering this field is if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. You should wake up and want to go to work. I’m a firm believer in that.” And the proof of Andrew’s philosophy can be tasted in every heavenly chocolate bonbon.