Our Master Chocolatier
World Renowned Master Chocolatier
Though mostly self-taught through discoveries gained with purposeful trial and error, Master Chocolatier Karen Neugebauer initially found her intense love for all things chocolate while attending the Art Institute’s Baking & Pastry program. She was immediately drawn to the transformative process involved in the making of a ganache and in chocolate’s innate ability to enhance lives as both a food and as an art.
Chef Karen started Forté Chocolate shortly after graduating in 2006 and quickly discovered that her confluence of natural artistic talents, laser sharp focus, and skill of manipulating flavor with techniques that “create a symphony in every bite” were quite special indeed! As such, Forté Chocolate has earned an astounding number of awards from around the world for a wide variety of her beautiful confections. It is no wonder that Chef Karen’s passion for chocolate and cunningly balanced flavor profiles has led to being ranked among the world’s best chocolatiers!
With the founding philosophy of “celebrating life through chocolate”, Chef Karen joyfully embraces the artisan mindset. Instead of mindless mass production so common in the world today, she cultivated a team of artisans that meticulously hand-crafts each piece with keen attention to both beauty AND taste. Although this path can be much more difficult, she believes that hand-craftsmanship is vital for truly connecting with one’s environment, connecting with the past, and for appreciating life today. This ideology drives Chef Karen to help improve the lives of those around her by sharing the artisan tradition and her wealth of knowledge, both in the kitchen and as an entrepreneurial business leader.
While her work and accomplishments are quite impressive, it is her personality and intense can-do attitude despite being disabled with Multiple Sclerosis that is truly inspiring. Chef Karen takes pleasure in spreading joy and serves as a strong role model to women and anyone living with a disability. She believes that “life is as beautiful as you make it” and takes pride in helping others to go beyond their perceived limitations to achieve their goals. To help spread this heartfelt notion, she rode her bicycle across America, over 7 mountain passes no less, to spread the word about MS and to see just how far her average, non-athletic body could go!