Chef Daniel Herskovic, chocolatier/owner of Mayana Chocolates, Chicago.

While studying the Russian language and classical guitar at Oberlin College in Ohio, Daniel Herskovic founded and taught a class on World Cuisine that was ultimately offered for college credit. It was there that Herskovic realized his professional future would be in the culinary world.

He graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 2000. For the next several years, he trained with some of the finest chefs in New York, San Francisco and Chicago.  In 2004, he launched a private chef business and then in 2006 a larger catering business called Sakura Private Dining.

Believing in being versatile in both savory and sweet cuisine, he took advanced pastry and chocolate workshops at the French Pastry School in Chicago and The Notter School of Pastry Arts in Orlando. Most notably he studied with Norman Love, Andrew Shotts and the French chocolatier Franck Kestener. The world of chocolate was becoming an obsession.

Shortly thereafter he started offering his catering clients boxes of chocolate confections that their guests could take home. With his client’s support of his chocolate endeavors, Mayana Chocolate was born in mid 2008. Receiving seven awards, including best in salon and most gifted chocolatier at the Chicago Chocolate Salon, Herskovic is very excited about the future of Mayana Chocolate. 

What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a classical guitar player or a writer. My mother encouraged me many times to sell women’s shoes – I guess selling bon bons is not too far off.

Name one or some of your favorite movies.
”Happy Gilmore,” “Eat Drink Man Woman,” “The Godfather” parts I & II (even though I don’t completely get it), “Scarface,” “John Adams,” and “Babette’s Feast.”

Describe your perfect dream vacation.
Travelling around France to visit pastry shops and chocolatiers with a short detour to New Zealand for hiking.

What book are you currently reading?
These days I only read cookbooks. My girlfriend says I have a food porn addiction. I am always getting inspiration from books by Andrew Shotts, Jean Pierre Wybauw and Frederic Robert. Peter Grewling’sChocolates and Confectionsis a wonderful resource to understanding the science of chocolate.

Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
My girlfriend Tamara, dog Rocky and a food porn collection.

What’s your pet peeve?
Not having enough time off.

I’d give anything to meet:
I’d give anything to meet investors or a great business partner to help market and grow Mayana Chocolate.

The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
“Don’t get high on your own supply.” (From “Scarface”)

What excites you most about your job?
I feel very blessed that my job is my passion and that every day there is room for learning new techniques and flavor combinations in chocolate. I love creating something that is beautiful visually and tastes even better. Even with a tough economy, the American public is becoming more and more open to and supportive of artisan chocolate. Ultimately, I am glad that my product makes people very happy.