Elaine Gonzalez

Elaine Gonzalez displays her handiwork at the Retail Confectioners International's national convention in 2010 where she announced her retirement as a Peter’s chocolate brand ambassador for Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate. 

Elaine (nee Garcia) Gonzalez, known as the "Chocolate Goddess" to confectionery and food professionals, passed away peacefully on Friday, July 25, after a lengthy illness at the age of 79.

The award-winning, Chicagoland-based chocolate instructor authored two books, The Art of Chocolate (Chronicle Books, 1998) and Chocolate Artistry (Contemporary Books, 1983) and was a major contributor to the candy chapter of The New Joy of Cooking (Scribner, 1997).

A magna cum laude graduate of Northwestern University with degrees in Spanish, English and secondary education, she began her chocolate career in 1972 as a supplier of custom chocolate novelties. In 1983, she founded her own company, Chocolate Artistry, which specialized in instructional services.

In addition to being a guest instructor at leading culinary schools throughout the country, including The Culinary Institute of America, The Malley School of Merchandising for Retail Confectioners and The Wilton School of Confectionary Art, she also was an ambassador for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate’s Peter’s brand for 27 years.

In June 2002, she became the first woman to receive the Henry J. Bornhofft Memorial Award from the Retailers Confectioners International, which simultaneously accorded her the title of Master Chocolatier Emeritus. In 2006, she was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame.

For almost 20 years, Gonzalez also led tours of Mexico, exploring cacao plantations in Tabasco, observing chocolate traditions in Oaxaca and studying ancient chocolate rituals in Mayan and Zapotec villages

“I consider Elaine one of my mentors and learned so much from her,” says Joe Sofia, chocolate specialist and account manager at Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate North America. “She was an inspirational teacher down to the core, and her passion for all things chocolate was truly contagious. She led trips to Mexico for chocolate enthusiasts to visit the birthplace of cacao, and I was lucky enough to go with her in 2008. She was known for her creative chocolate artistry, as she would use most anything as a chocolate mould. At both Nestlé and Cargill, we were proud to have Elaine represent our Peter’s brand for nearly 30 year. A lot of great memories were created by a wonderful woman and lady—she will be missed.”

 Elaine is survived by her children, Jay (Lisa Peterson) Gonzalez, Carla (Mike) Pister and Lisa (Andrew) Torre; grandchildren, Jackson, Michael, Lucas and Ana Lucia; sister, Louise Harrison; many nieces, nephews, cousins and numerous friends. Her husband, Joseph “Pepe” Gonzalez, a former  University of Illinois track star passed away  last year. Funeral Services were held today at the Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville, Ind.