Barry Callebaut Group has announced it has completed expansion initiatives at its Region Americas head office in Chicago.

Additions to the office include a state-of-the-art Applications Laboratory to support the development of chocolate and cocoa products for food manufacturing customers.

The Chocolate Academy, an advanced teaching and training center for gourmet professionals, was also renovated to accommodate more students throughout the year.

“The Chicago office expansion is an important milestone for Barry Callebaut,” says Dave Johnson, ceo and president Americas of the Barry Callebaut Group. “The investment is part of our corporate strategy that will provide world-class chocolate and cocoa solutions to our customers by strengthening our presence in the United States.”

Barry Callebaut technical advisors will work in the lab with food manufacturing customers to create finished concepts, using the full range of Barry Callebaut products, including chocolate, compound, fillings, inclusions, nuts and decorations.

Technical advisors are on staff to optimize customers’ existing recipes to streamline processes and identify new flavor profiles, among other services.

The lab also features several pilot plants – small scale “factories” that simulate production runs in customers’ factories. They will allow for testing of small batches of new and existing recipes, using a variety of processing equipment and techniques to meet customers’ unique product needs.

“The Applications Laboratory and Pilot Plants are important additions to our office since they allow us to put conceptual product ideas into actual practice,” says Laurent Besin, director - R&D technical services and applications. “Whether creating a new product or improving application prototypes, customers will benefit from innovative solutions that are developed and tested in our simulated environment.”

Renovations to the Chicago Chocolate Academy — one of Barry Callebaut’s 19 global demonstration and training centers — were also completed.

The lecture auditorium, used for innovation sessions for chefs, trainings, chocolate demonstrations and special events, was expanded to increase its stadium-style seating capacity. It now accommodates approximately 75 people. Other improvements to the Chocolate Academy include a variety of equipment upgrades in the main training kitchen that enhance the learning experience for students and guests.

The Chicago Chocolate Academy offers an expanded course curriculum to meet increased student demand.

“Our global network of Chocolate Academies provides gourmet professionals unmatched and personalized training to sharpen their mastery of the art of chocolate,” says Chef JérômeLandrieu, director, Chicago Chocolate Academy.  “We are committed to confection, pastry and bakery training. Our goal is to inspire chefs to reach heightened levels of technique, creativity and artistry.”

Since opening in 2008, more than 2,000 students – from pastry chefs and bakers to confectioners and caterers – have received training at the Chicago Chocolate Academy.

Barry Callebaut Group is a manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products – from the origination and processing cocoa beans to producing the finest chocolates, including chocolate fillings, decorations and compounds.