With a passion for chocolate and the desire to educate and inspire, Dennis Witzel created the Chocolate Boot Camp Scholarship for members of Retail Confectioners International (RCI) wishing to attend the trade association’s Chocolate Boot Camp. Prior to his passing in January 2020, it was his intent for the scholarship to pay for the full course tuition, valued at $1,200. 

Dennis Witzel enjoyed a 47-year sales career in the chocolate industry, representing Nestlé Chocolate and the Peter’s Chocolate division over the years. Following his retirement in 2009, Witzel continued his involvement with the industry as an independent sales consultant for Linnea’s Cake & Candy Supplies. 

During the length of his career, Witzel coordinated RCI‘s educational programs for several years and was an instructor for RCI‘s Chocolate Boot Camp and other various chocolate-related courses. Additionally, Witzel served on the RCI Board of Directors, was a member of American Association of Candy Technologists and the Western Candy Conference. He was awarded RCI's Henry J. Bornhofft Award in 2012 and was inducted into the National Confectionery Sales Association’s Candy Hall of Fame in 2013.

“Dennis was an invaluable member of both the RCI family and the confectionery industry and was a cherished friend to many,” said RCI Executive Director Angie Burlison. “As an association, we look forward to the opportunity to be part of his legacy by making this scholarship available to confectioners who share his passion for chocolate artistry.”

Applications for the first Dennis R. Witzel Chocolate Boot Camp Scholarship were collected in early October and reviewed anonymously by a scholarship committee. 

RCI has announced Alison Mortensen of Char-Val Candies as the scholarship’s first recipient. With the scholarship, Mortensen will attend Chocolate Boot Camp in February 2022 tuition free.

Registration for Chocolate Boot Camp will open soon — first to RCI members before opening to other industry professionals. The upcoming course is scheduled for Feb. 21-24, 2022 at Fascia’s Chocolates in Waterbury, Connecticut. Prior to its cancellation in 2020 due to COVID-19, Chocolate Boot Camp sold out consecutively for nine years and is expected to sell out quickly again. Non-members interested in attending are encouraged to sign up at retailconfectioners.org/2021CBC to receive email notification from RCI when registration opens to the public. 

For more information about the Dennis R. Witzel Chocolate Boot Camp Scholarship, visit retailconfectioners.org/CBCscholarship.